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2018 Training Camp Day 5 Notebook

Tyronn Lue Breaks Down the Bigs on Eve of Intersquad Scrimmage

by Joe Gabriele (@CavsJoeG)
9/29/18 |

By the time Monday’s practice wraps up before the Cavaliers’ flight to Boston for the preseason opener, Tyronn Lue’s squad will be more than ready to get after anyone with a different colored uniform.

As the first week of Training Camp comes to a close – culminating with Sunday’s Wine & Gold Scrimmage on Sunday afternoon in Dayton – the intensity was definitely ramped up. Guys are hungry to get after a real opponent.

Lue’s staff is trying to get guys familiar with the offense – splitting the team into four groups to work through certain plays. And after practice, Cleveland’s coach admitted that his squad wasn’t as sharp doing so as they’d been earlier in the week.

”I thought we took a step back today as a team, as far as execution,” lamented Lue. “Understanding what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to look for, the different reads – I just thought that we didn’t pick it up as well as we did the first couple days. So I’m a little disappointed about that.”

There were still some outstanding moments in practice – including a jaw-dropping move by JR Smith, who dribbled behind-his-back into the lane, feeding Larry Nance Jr. with a gorgeous alley-oop.

Smith and Nance could be the squad’s too best overall defenders. Swish – who, in a rare move, addressed the team huddle after practice – has proved his perimeter defensive chops over the years, especially in the postseason. Nance isn’t your standard rim-protecting center, but he’s extremely active in the paint and gets his hands on everything.

In terms of how Lue intends to split time between his two starting-caliber big men, it’s a pretty simple process: Tristan will take on the bigger, bruising centers and Nance will face off against the league’s more mobile bigs.

”When we play the bigger guys – (Joel) Embiid, (Andre) Drummond, Dwight Howard – Tristan will start and when we play the smaller 5’s, Larry will start,” explained Cleveland’s coach. “Last year, it kind of wore Larry down, guarding those big guys for the whole game. And just talking to those two guys, Larry was like ‘thank you.’ I talked to both before Camp started and told them what the situation was.”

Nance and Thompson will likely square off against one another on Sunday afternoon at Wright-Patt. And come Tuesday night, both bigs will be ready to rumble in Boston.

Larry Nance Jr. and Sam Dekker get ready to warm up before the start of Day 5 of Training Camp.
Photo by Joe Sykes /

1 If you were wondering if NBA players actually have to do line-touches in practice – that maybe that stuff ended in high school or college – the answer is that, yes, they still do.

Tyronn Lue has made the up-tempo style a priority in practice, and that means whipping guys into shape. And that means line touches – which no one likes (except, apparently, George Hill – who sped through the drill and finished several lengths ahead of his next-closest competitor, Collin Sexton).

2 Neither Rodney Hood nor Tristan Thompson practiced on Saturday afternoon. Thompson, who caused quite a stir with his Eastern Conference comments after practice on Thursday – sat out with a sore left knee. Hood was at CCC, but was feeling under the weather.

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