Tyronn Lue says no major changes for Cavs for Game 3

CLEVELAND — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is digging in his heels on his approach to coaching his team despite trailing the Golden State Warriors 0-2 heading into Wednesday’s Game 3.

Lue announced Tuesday that he will keep J.R. Smith as his starting shooting guard, even though Smith combined for just three points on 1-for-6 shooting, two rebounds and zero assists, steals and blocks in Games 1 and 2.

A Cavs source told ESPN following Game 2 that the team would consider starting Iman Shumpert over Smith after Shumpert had some success guarding Kevin Durant and played aggressively on offense. Lue, however, is sticking with Smith, who started 35 of the 41 games in which he played this season.

Shumpert, who required an IV after Game 2, appeared Tuesday to have recovered from the cramps that plagued him Sunday. He and Smith engaged in a spirited game of 1-on-1 during the portion of the practice that was open to the media and Shumpert could be heard encouraging Smith to bring the same mindset he displayed in practice to the rest of the series.

Lue also remained steadfast in the Cavs playing with a frenetic pace, even though the Warriors have outscored them 245-204 in the series so far. The Cavs were average, at best, in terms of pace during the regular season, ranking 16th in the league.

“I think taking good shots when we’re playing with pace and not turning the basketball over, letting them get out in transition,” Lue said. “So, that’s our game. We’re not going to change our game because of who we’re playing. And I’m confident that we can play that way, and we did it last year. A lot of people said we couldn’t. But that’s our game. That’s who we are. And we’re not going to change just pause we’re playing Golden State.”

The Cavs are playing at a quicker pace than LeBron James has ever played before. James has played with an average pace of 90.6 possessions per game in his 14-year career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the Finals, the Cavs are averaging 105.5 possessions per game so far.

In the first quarter of Game 2, the Cavs played with the fastest pace of any quarter of the 1,275 games James has played — regular season or postesason. Despite the extra possessions, Cleveland trailed 40-34 heading into the second. The quickened pace was not sustainable in Game 2, as the Cavs had 59 possessions in the first half and 49 possessions in the second half.

James rejected a reporter’s call for more of a halfcourt-oriented game from the Cavs on Wednesday.

“That’s not our game. We don’t play slowdown basketball,” James said. “We play at our pace. We play our game. We got to this point playing our way. We have won a lot of games playing the way we play, so we’re not going to change.”

Lue acknowledged one adjustment, saying that starting center Tristan Thompson could continue to play reduced minutes.

“It’s not anything Tristan isn’t doing,” Lue said. “I just think that against this team you have to score the basketball.”

If it’s not Thompson, the Cavs will likely go more to Channing Frye, who was 1-for-5 for two points in Game 2. He is not the only role player struggling. Smith, of course, has yet to make an impact, and Deron Williams is 0-for-9 in the Finals so far.

“We have done a great job of getting everyone involved and making sure that everyone feels comfortable, but now we need everything and everybody,” Kyrie Irving said. “And I know they know how important they are. And it’s our job, my job to exude as much confidence as I can in them in order to get the very best, and I will do that.”

Tyronn Lue plans to keep LeBron James, Kyrie Irving on court until East locked up

CLEVELAND — All season, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he would prioritize health over postseason seeding when it comes to managing his team. As the Cavs enter the last week before the playoffs begin, he’s trying to achieve both.

Lue said he intends to play both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving until Cleveland clinches the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Entering Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland held a 1 ½-game lead over the Boston Celtics for the East’s top spot with four games left to play, giving the Cavs a magic number of two to clinch.

While he wants to get Irving and James some rest once the seeding is determined, Lue plans to use the remainder of the regular season as a tune-up for JR Smith, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver — all of whom missed significant chunks of time in the second half of the season because of injury.

“If we can take care of business like we’re supposed to, I think that we’d like LeBron and Kyrie to get some rest,” Lue said. “I think JR and Korver and Kevin and those guys should play a little bit because they’ve been out for so long and just try to keep JR’s rhythm and establish Kevin’s rhythm and the same thing with Kyle. So the most important guys right now are Kyrie and LeBron, just trying to get those guys some rest if we can.”

That could mean that James will sit out Monday’s road game against the Miami Heat on the second night of a back-to-back, where he has already sat out two of the past three meetings at American Airlines Arena against his former team.

Last season, James sat out two of the Cavs’ final four games before the playoffs. The season before that, it was two out of the Cavs’ final three games.

Lue added that he would like to see injured center Tristan Thompson, out for the second consecutive game because of a sprained right thumb, on the court again before the playoffs begin. Thompson will be re-evaluated following the Atlanta game to determine when he will be available to return.

“Depends on how he feels,” Lue said. “If he feels good, I think he should get a game or two just to get some kind of feel. Missing the last five games would be tough trying to get him back out there, but we’ll see.”

Kevin Love, since February 14 knee surgery, started Thursday as a knight

CLEVELAND — Kevin Love will make an earlier-than-expected return to the Cavaliers.

The All-Star forward will start Thursday night against the Utah Jazz, with the team making the announcement a day after general manager David Griffin had said Love likely would be back on the Cavs’ upcoming four-game road trip.

On Feb. 14, Love underwent arthroscopic surgery to have a loose body removed from his left knee. He was expected to miss six weeks.

“The medical staff just said he was great,” coach Tyronn Lue said Thursday of Love’s quick recovery. “He felt great after the few practices that we had and the couple 3-on-3s that they had. So they said he was ready to go tonight, and that’s a good sign for us, and hopefully he’ll continue to stay this way, stay healthy.”

Love will be on an undisclosed minutes restriction, according to Lue. He also likely will be held out of both ends of back-to-backs for the time being, the coach said.

Cleveland plays the Clippers on Saturday and the Lakers on Sunday.

Cleveland went just 7-6 in the 13 games Love missed. Lue said his contributions — 20 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game — will be welcome. And not just the stats, but the manner by which Love goes about getting them.

“Well, his defensive rebounding for one,” Lue said of what Love will bring to the Cavs, who were outrebounded 12.0 to 7.2 offensively per game while he was sidelined. “The second thing is, just when we get those leads and we’re getting jump-shot happy, we’re able to throw the ball into the post and slow the game down. Either he’s going to score or get to the free throw line. That’s what was good for us before.

“When LeBron [James] goes out of the game, him and Kyrie [Irving] are kind of working that two-man game. That’s what we missed the most, just slowing the game down, posting the basketball and either him scoring or getting to the free throw line.”

Kyle Korver, meanwhile, will miss his fifth straight game Thursday due to a sore left foot. Lue said the veteran shooter is expected back on the court early in the upcoming road trip, which begins Saturday in L.A.