The Cavaliers flew to Boston on Tuesday afternoon, and coach Tyronn Lue hopes they took their aggressiveness.
Having won twice at Quicken Loans Arena to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece, the Cavs will need that and more in Game 5 tonight against the Celtics at TD Garden.
“We’ve still got to play,” Lue said Tuesday on a conference call. “We have veteran guys that have been there and know what it takes, but they’re a young team that plays really well at home. We’ve got to go in there with the same mentality we had in Games 3 and 4.
“I feel good. They’ve seen the blueprint of how we’ve got to play and what we’ve got to do defensively and how we’ve got to play offensively over the last couple of games. They see that and they understand that, but we’ve got to go into Boston and do it.”
In losing Game 1 108-83 and Game 2 107-94 at TD Garden, where the Celtics are 9-0 in the 2018 playoffs, the Cavs didn’t do that. In winning 116-86 and 111-102 at The Q, they did.
That’s why the Cavs are in position to win a series for the third time after falling behind 2-0, having done it in six games vs. Detroit in the 2007 conference finals and in seven games against Golden State in the 2016 NBA Finals, when they also trailed 3-1.
Having been to The Finals three straight years, Cleveland’s experience should help. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s why Lue said midway through an up-and-down regular season that he believed his team could still win the East.
“Because of what we’ve done the last three years, just having the culture we have here, we had a chance to be the best team in the East,” he said Tuesday when asked about that proclamation. “A lot of teams were playing better at the time, but I just felt that come playoff time, we had veteran guys that know what it takes. That’s the confidence that we have going into the playoffs.”
In addition to aggressiveness, Lue is most concerned with taking care of the ball in Game 5. The Cavs have committed 59 turnovers in the series, including 19 in Game 4, which cost them 19 points and might have cost them the game had the Celtics been able to capitalize more often.
The coach said much the same thing at the interview podium following Game 4, noting the Cavs tend to get sloppy in the open court and when they seem to be on the verge of taking control of a game.
“A lot of times we get out and run, got numbers, but we’re making careless passes in transition,” Lue said. “We’ve got to take advantage of those moments. We were up 16, 18. Like, take it to 25, 26 to really increase the lead.
“Every time we got a chance to do that, we turned the basketball over. That’s been hurting us.”
- Eastern Conference finals: Celtics beat Cavs 96-83 in Game 5
- Sounding the alarm: Cavaliers have reason to worry with their season on the line against the Celtics
- Cavs headed to NBA Finals
- Commentary: Thanks to LeBron James and plenty of determination, a nightmarish Cavaliers season ends up back in the Finals again
- Cavaliers Notes: LeBron James continues to pass greats on career lists, says it's 'just humbling'
- Cavaliers: Kyle Korver earns kudos for hustle play, as teammates rave about his work ethic, effort and attitude
- Cavs split series with 111-102 win over Celtics in Game 4 of Eastern Conference finals (UPDATED)
- 10 things to know, Tuesday, May 22
- Cavs notes: LeBron thankful just for the idea of putting up a statue of him in Akron
- Tristan Thompson back to making a difference for Cavs
- Commentary: The Celtics have home court, but the Cavs still have LeBron James
- Cavaliers: LeBron James got big assist from teammates in Game 3 victory, needs same support tonight in Game 4
- Cavs Notes: Larry Nance settling into latest new role
- Back in business: Cavaliers dominate Celtics from start to finish in Game 3
- Jim Ingraham: When Cavs try hard, they can make it look easy
- George Hill gets aggressive from beginning, helps Cavs turn things around in Game 3
- Cavaliers hope to rise up by speeding up against the Celtics
- Guard awful: Cavaliers' struggling starting backcourt of J.R. Smith and George Hill know they have to be a lot better to beat Celtics
- Celtics beat Cavaliers 107-94 in Game 2 of Eastern Conference finals
- Jim Ingraham: Playing hard doesn't seem to be a priority for the Cavs right now
- Cavaliers not panicking, but need to get better ... fast
- NBA Playoffs: LeBron James stunned after collision, but returns and finishes with 42 points in triple-double
- Tristan Thompson to the rescue? Cavaliers center might get start tonight in Game 2, has history of success against Al Horford
- Heading to Boston: Cavaliers expecting a tough foe and a tough crowd
- NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers and Celtics are familiar foes with different looks this year ... except for the constant brilliance of LeBron James
- Cavaliers Commentary: Without Kyrie Irving in the lineup for either team, series lacks a serious ego and some drama
- NBA Playoffs: Boston's Marcus Morris takes on challenge of guarding LeBron James, helps hold him to playoff-low 15 points