BOSTON (CBS) — When Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue accused the Celtics of “gooning the game up” following Cleveland’s Game 2 loss in Boston, he wasn’t criticizing the C’s.
He was actually lambasting his own team for their soft play. At least that’s the tune Lue was singing with reporters on Thursday when he tried to clarify his postgame comments.
When Lue said “gooning the game up,” he claims he was simply referring to Boston’s physical play, which has been a big difference in the series so far.
“Nothing bad. I like it. But physicality, hard fouls, into our body, into our airspace, and they’re just playing tough,” Lue said of the Celtics, who own a 2-0 series lead heading into Saturday’s Game 3 in Cleveland. “It’s not a bad thing to goon it up. Like taking hard fouls and being physical, they’re playing playoff basketball. That’s all I meant by it, nothing bad.”
To borrow his own phrase, Lue would really like to see his team “goon it up” going forward.
“Match it. Be physical. Don’t let them run as freely,” he said. “I thought we did it for spurts, but we’ve got to do it for a full 48 minutes.”
It was a curious comment, especially since it came shortly after Cavaleirs guard J.R. Smith made a dirty and dangerous (not to mention, dumb) two-handed shove to the back of a defenseless Al Horford as he went up for a potential alley-oop. But make no mistake, the Celtics, led by the likes of Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and even Horford, were far and away the more physical team in the first two games in Boston. They won the battle on the glass, 94-85, and played their signature tough defense, forcing 24 Cavaliers turnovers.
Now just two wins away from a trip to the NBA Finals, don’t expect the Celtics to ease up on the physicality. We’ll see if the Cavaliers wake up on that front and do some “gooning” of their own now that things are shifting to Cleveland.