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May 26, 2016

Tyronn Lue

Toronto, Ontario: Practice Day

Conference Call between Games 5 and 6:

Q. Yesterday's result, how much of it was just guys making shots versus you and your coaching staff making strategic changes from what you saw in Toronto, implementing them and getting the result you wanted?
TYRONN LUE: It was both. I think we made a couple adjustments. Defensively we made some adjustments, offensively with the coaching staff, and then also, like you said, guys making shots. I thought we were aggressive. I thought we moved the ball. I thought we attacked the basket, and I thought we were physical for the whole game. That's the game plan. That's what we wanted to be, and that's what the guys did last night.

Q. I wanted to ask you what it's like to have a player like LeBron James who's so secure in his own abilities and accomplishments that he's able to maybe hold back a little bit from a personal numbers standpoint and make sure he's always doing what's best for the team and other players on the team?
TYRONN LUE: LeBron is a winner. He understands what it takes to win, and right now, just showing his confidence in his teammates has really gone a long way. These guys are playing at a high level. Kevin [Love] and Kyrie [Irving] along with the other guys are really playing well. LeBron understands to win a championship you need everyone, and that's how he's been playing this postseason.

Q. You guys have had three blowout wins now at home in this series. I think in the NBA there have been 17 playoff games decided by more than 25 points. Do you have any theory as to why we're seeing such lopsided games in the playoffs?
TYRONN LUE: I just think the confidence of playing at home. I think the environment is very special. I think the fans come out and support, and they're at a high level knowing that everything is heightened during the playoffs. I think teams feed off that. They feed off the crowd's energy. The role players play better at home. It's just a great environment to be at home during the playoffs. It's just an unbelievable experience.

Q. You mentioned you were much more physical in Game 5 at home. Through your years as a player and a coach, what are some of the reasons you've found for not bringing that same kind of physicality or aggressiveness on the road?
TYRONN LUE: It was the way we played them. I thought going under with [DeMar] DeRozan and letting him get those mid-range shots off, it just made us off. I think it was just part of how we played him going into it. Our first two games at home, we wanted DeRozan to try to come out and make those mid-range shots. It kind of took everybody else out of the game. As you saw in the second half, none of the other players had a rhythm. But we just felt as a coaching staff in Game 5 that we wanted to come out, be more physical, go over the top with him, be more aggressive, and that changed the game for us. Just throughout the playoffs, just adjusting and making game-to-game adjustments.

Q. What else has to be different in Game 6 than in Games 3 and 4?
TYRONN LUE: I don't think anything has to be different. I just think our mentality has to be the same. You have to have the same mindset and be true to our identity. We have to be aggressive. We have to be physical. We have to take a defensive-minded approach and just continue to trust our teammates. The guy who's open, make sure he gets the ball. Continue to play at a high pace offensively and put the pressure on their defense. I thought we did that last night. That's what we've got to continue to do tomorrow night.

Q. Looking back on it, especially in Game 3, I don't think Kevin took a shot until there was like four minutes left in the first quarter. As we all know, you guys like to try to get him going early. Just where he is as a player, do you have to get him the ball very early in the first quarter to get him involved first almost?
TYRONN LUE: We like to try to establish the inside-out. We always run plays to start the game for Kevin, get him involved early, hope he draws fouls early in the game or makes an easy shot down low in the paint. That kind of frees it up for him. I think when he starts inside-out, that really helps his game. He's able to do more on the floor when he's scoring on the low post, and that opens up his shot from the perimeter. Getting Kevin going early is definitely something we like to do and we want to continue to do.

Q. You mentioned the changes that you made in guarding Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Where did those stem from? Was that something you came up with? Was that something that the players wanted to do after how the first four games went? Did an assistant come up with that plan? How did you arrive at the conclusion that it was time to abandon the going-under philosophy?
TYRONN LUE: Our staff had talked about it, and we did it the second half of the third game. It got us back into the game, and then because of that, we had talked about making that adjustment of being more physical, not being as passive. The guys came out and executed the game plan.

Q. We talked about the notion of trust last night and the idea of LeBron not doing too much. When did you guys kind of get to that conclusion or that direction for this team?
TYRONN LUE: I just think with LeBron, he understands that if we're going to win at a high level, we need everyone. Like I said before, we know LeBron can come out and dominate a game in every facet of the game. But he understands if he keeps his guys confident and the whole team is playing with confidence, then that makes it easier for him because everyone is in a rhythm, everyone is confident and everyone knows that they can make plays. LeBron understands that, and he understands that if we use everyone the right way and continue to trust the offense and continue to trust the defense, then we can go a lot further that way.

Q. Was that even possible early in the season considering the injuries that obviously Kyrie is dealing with and Kevin coming off the shoulder? Did there need to be time before your team could realize that --
TYRONN LUE: When you have two players that go down like Kevin and Kyrie went down last year in the playoffs and LeBron had to carry the load, it's hard on a night-to-night basis. I think with Kyrie being out at the start of the season, LeBron had to carry a heavier load. LeBron and Kevin really did a great job of holding the ship down until Kyrie got back. When guys go down, guys have to step up and do more. That's what Kevin and LeBron did early. Kyrie came back and finally got his rhythm, got his legs underneath him, and those three have been playing great together.

It's all about when it's called for and when it's called upon for LeBron to be more aggressive. As you saw in that third quarter last night, just pushing the pace and pushing the tempo, it really helps our offense out a lot. LeBron did a great job of that to start the third quarter.

Q. Coming into Game 6, is this the kind of game that LeBron does need to take over? Do you think this would be the game for him to do it?
TYRONN LUE: I think he has to be very assertive. I think he has to set the tone early offensively and defensively, pushing the basketball. But we're going to need the whole team, and he understands that. But I think LeBron knows and understands that he has to set the tone early, and everybody else will follow.

Q. How do you make sure the focus and the intensity level is there in Game 6, and hoping the players don't have that crutch of knowing, oh, if we lose, there's a Game 7 at home where we've dominated? How do you keep them playing the same way in Game 6 that they did last night?
TYRONN LUE: We want to come in with the approach that this is our Game 7. We've worked hard all season to get to this point, and we want to treat this next game as our Game 7.

Q. As a player when you have a couple of tough games like Kevin had up in Toronto, what does it mean to have your teammates rally around you the way they did for him?
TYRONN LUE: It means a lot. Everyone knows Kevin can play this game at a high level, and he continued to put the work in every day. He works hard every day. Sometimes he works too hard. But he's constantly in the weight room, he's constantly doing conditioning, constantly working on his post game and shooting. He just continues to work, and he works hard. That's why when he misses a couple shots, that doesn't bother me because he puts the time and he puts the work in. Some nights he's just not going to make shots. That's just part of the game.

Q. As a first-year coach, do you have any time to kind of take in the moment that you're leading a team in the Eastern Conference Finals? Or are you so focused on the goal that you haven't had a chance to really look at the journey?
TYRONN LUE: I haven't had a chance to really sit back and reflect on a lot of it because it's a game every other day. You really don't have a chance to really sit back and enjoy it. I think after the first two rounds when we were able to win in four games, you can kind of sit back and not knowing who you're playing, you can kind of relax a little bit and just think about it. But when you're in the heat of the battle and you're playing every other day, it's hard to sit back and reflect on what's at stake.

If we're fortunate enough to make it to the NBA Finals, then you can get a chance to sit back and reflect on that -- just all the things we've been through this season, and then to come together and have a chance to do something special really means a lot.

Q. What's the biggest difference between you this year and you last year as an assistant going through this?
TYRONN LUE: Well, actually having to make the decisions and not suggestion them. It's different when you have suggestions coming in from the rest of the coaching staff and then you have the final say. That's the biggest difference. Whatever the team is going to do it's your final call. You stamp the final call. That's the biggest difference.

Q. You had mentioned that it took Kyrie to get his legs under him. When did you notice that he was back to the point where he wanted to be, where you wanted him to be? Ahen the second portion of that is what was the challenge of incorporating his game back into the offense and making sure it was flowing the way you wanted it to with everyone else on the court?
TYRONN LUE: I think like the last three weeks of the season, that's when Kyrie really started to come around, trusted his knee, having the trust to do certain things, make a crossover move or getting to the basket moving off of that leg, and also just getting the leg underneath him for a shot. I think the last three weeks of the season we really saw a turning point in that, and once we started the playoffs, he had all the confidence in the world in his leg and he did a great job of rehabbing and keeping his body prepared throughout this season. Just seeing the last three weeks of that season and going into the playoffs, he really raised his game and took it to another level.

Just offensively, we always continued to tell Kyrie just be aggressive, be in attack mode all night, playing fast, playing with a pace, early transition, attacking the basket. And then once you get to the half court, we're able to run sets. He's done a great job throughout this postseason of doing that, and he's still learning.

Q. Kyrie talked about taking a lesson out of his first true road test in Toronto. What do you think that lesson was, and how can he and the team apply it into Game 6?
TYRONN LUE: Like we talk about all the time, just being aggressive, being who you are, staying in the moment, and just playing your game. Don't get discouraged off of missed shots, continue to attack, continue to be aggressive and play the way that you're capable of playing. That's our biggest message going into the game tomorrow: Stay aggressive on both ends, the physicality on both ends, and just being aggressive and playing your game. Don't let the missed shots affect your game on the defensive end. Don't let it stop you from being aggressive. We told Kyrie to be who he is, and that's to be aggressive and looking to score the basketball.

Q. Vince Lombardi once said, "Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it." So with the adversity that Tristan [Thompson] and Kevin faced coming out of Toronto, what did it reveal about those guys last night the way they played?
TYRONN LUE: Just true professionals. Continue to work hard every day. They put in the work every single day. You're going to have bad games throughout the course of the season. I think it's probably the 100th game of the season counting the preseason, and you're going to have a couple bad games. That's just part of life. That's just part of being a human being. But that doesn't stop those guys from putting in the work and also having the confidence knowing they can play at a high level.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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