The Los Angeles Clippers have fallen behind in the Western Conference Finals, losing Game 1 to the Phoenix Suns, but Clipper Nation should fear not, because head coach Ty Lue has a history of coming through in the clutch. L.A. fell behind in its first two playoff series so far, going down 0-2 to both the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah jazz before coming back to win both series in seven games.
Much of the Clips’ recent success can be attributed to first-year head coach Ty Lue, who has been incredibly effective in the postseason. Via ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry, “Ty Lue is now 12-1 as a coach when his team has a chance to clinch a series. Best such record in NBA history.”
Lue, of course, led LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Championship in 2016, and he’s looking to win his second trophy — which would be the Clippers’ first. The Clips have been without their superstar Kawhi Leonard for the last three games, making Lue’s recent shuffling of the lineup all the more impressive.
Lue is Quick to Recognize His Team’s Mistakes
After the Clippers’ Game 1 loss to the Suns, Lue’s postgame analysis of what his team did wrong was right on. “I think picking Devin Booker up too high up the floor gave him too much real estate to attack downhill,” Lue said. “I understand our guards tried to get to him and apply some pressure, but they were setting screens out toward half court, which puts our bigs in a tough situation when he’s coming downhill at you full speed. We have to do a better job at our pickup point.”
Booker dropped a triple-double on L.A., netting 40 points, while also hauling in 13 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. We’ll see what kind of adjustments the Clips coach has in store for Game 2 and beyond, particularly considering he’ll very likely be without Leonard for the near future.
“I think defensively, a couple blitzes, which they did a great job,” Lue added. “I thought they did a good job of just picking our defense apart for the most part. We made some mistakes, but like I said, Devin Booker did a great job of knowing what play he wanted to make when we fired at him to try to double-team. When we blitzed the pick-and-roll, they know exactly where their guys wanted to be, and they put us in some tough positions. They did a good job of executing their game plan offensively.”
Lue Has Proven to Be Great When it Comes to Making Roster Adjustments in the Playoffs
Part of why Lue has been so successful when it comes to clinching games is his ability to adjust on the fly. Lue made key roster moves in the first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks, for example. Reggie Jackson, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George got the start in Game 3 after the team dropped the first two games in the series, so Lue changed things up. Lue gave Jackson the nod over Patrick Beverley, and he took Zubac out and added Nicolas Batum in for Game 4. The Clippers responded by playing stingier defense, and they ultimately won the series.
“I tell you,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said about Lue after the coach’s hire, “Ty’s my kind of guy. He wants to move, move, move, learn new things, absorb, think new thoughts, which I think is essential to be better, to grow.”
Lue’s growth as a head coach has been evident throughout the playoffs this year — and he’s just getting started.