In the NBA, the shot clock is set to 24 seconds; however, it’s different in Cleveland. In an effort to play at a much higher tempo than their opponents and create more shots, head coach Tyronn Lue implemented an effective strategy in practice…the 12-second shot clock.
According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers took the fifth-fewest shot attempts per game last season (84.8). The 12-second shot clock prepares Cleveland to speed up the tempo and create not only more shots in general, but more efficient shots.
During Saturday’s shoot around, point guard George Hill told reporters the strategy encourages the Cavaliers to look for the extra pass. The extra shots will come as a result of the increased ball movement.
“We’ve got a 12-second shot clock, which is tough,” Hill said to reporters. “(Lue) does it to get the pace up, to get the ball up the floor, not a lot of dribbling. You’ve got to use the pass instead of dribble so we are just working on trying to enhance our pace, but at the same time get good shots.”
Since the season is another week away, the preseason serves as a valuable trial run, for both the Cavaliers to learn and for coach Lue to assess.
In NBA analyst Sam Amico’s article on amicohoops.net, coach Lue said the preseason is a good indication on which Cavaliers can play this higher-paced style the most efficiently. Thus far, Lue spoke highly of the results.
In the article, Lue said; “It’s been good. It’s pretty much been open tryouts to see who fits with who, who plays well together, an open competition. The guys are competing, but also trying to help each other get better.”
Last season, the Cavaliers ranked 19th in assists per game. It was clear the isolation-style offense plagued any sort of ball movement. At times, it was frustrating to watch the team resort to isolation basketball, especially in close games. This season; however, coach Lue wants to change the narrative.
Looking good despite low numbers
During the first two games this preseason, the Cavaliers strategy produced desirable results.
In their first preseason game at Boston on Oct. 2, the Cavaliers controlled the game from the onset.
Cleveland led 32-19 after the first quarter; 59-40 at halftime. In the end, the Cavaliers defeated the Celtics 102-95 after Boston led a comeback in the second half, but it was evident from the beginning…Cleveland played much faster. Power forward Kevin Love led the way with 17 points in just 19 minutes. Rookie Collin Sexton contributed 15 points and four assists in a team-high 23 minutes.
With Love being the focal point of the offense, the ball moved through him more efficiently than it looked in years past. With this faster tempo basketball, Love should score a lot more frequently.
The Cavs only took 80 shots and collected just 13 assists; Boston had more in both statistical categories. Despite this, Cleveland outplayed Boston from start to finish. They did the same against Boston again on Oct. 6, where they defeated the Celtics, 113-102, at Quicken Loans Arena.
In both games, Boston played the majority of their key contributors: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. The Cavs, without Love or Hill, outplayed the Celtics from the beginning and controlled the tempo, again.
The assist total for Cleveland still remained below average (15), but the ball movement and higher tempo created problems for Boston.
While the preseason isn’t a valuable indication on how the regular season will play out, it’s difficult not to be optimistic about the way Cleveland performed thus far.
The 12-second shot clock is a creative strategy to encourage the Cavaliers to control the pace of play. When the season starts, look for the team to create efficient shots through rapid ball movement and faster play.
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