Tyronn Lue made a strange statement on Wednesday. Cleveland’s second-year coach was asked about whether he’s already planning for an NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors, and in a moment that some basketball fans may view as odd, Lue said that the Boston Celtics were actually harder to defend than the three-time Western Conference Champions.
Word of this apparently got back to Golden State’s interim head coach Mike Brown. In a delightfully blunt moment, Brown – who is manning the sideline while Steve Kerr recovers from back issues – fired back at Lue’s assertion.
In fairness to Lue, his statement makes a lot more sense in context, as he didn’t necessarily seem to mean that he believes Boston’s offense is better. If that was the case, every ounce of criticism he receives would probably be justified because the Warriors’ offense is horrifying.
Instead, Lue said that the Celtics’ offense is harder to defend because the things that they run are so unique. He mentioned that Boston’s system is “a totally different thing” because of “the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays.” Basically, it seems like Lue’s argument is that every player on Boston is a threat to score on every possession due to the team’s cutting and ball movement, which is different from saying “yeah, they’re straight up better than the Dubs.”
This is also probably a case of Lue wanting to make it look like he’s not overlooking the team he hasn’t bested in the conference finals yet. Again, that is fair, and it’s a way to show respect for his opponent even if it’s a perceived foregone conclusion that Cleveland is moving on.
Having said all of this, few teams are better than taking statements made by opponents and turning them into fuel than the Warriors, which have mastered this over the last few years. Again, in context, this statement by Lue didn’t mean any harm, but it can easily be misconstrued the Cavs’ coach disrespecting Golden State.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if we learned that Brown’s statement is a common sentiment among everyone within the franchise, but for now, let’s just laugh at the fact that the head coach of an NBA team said that a statement by one of his fellow coaches was “cute.”