Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue and forward LeBron James believe the team has shown a lack of toughness in recent weeks, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Cavs have fallen to 22nd place in the defensive efficiency ratings and are in dangerous of losing the top seed in the East. Their latest loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday had both of them lamenting about the team’s lack of desire to defend. “It starts with the coaches but the players gotta look at themselves in the mirror, too,” Lue told Vardon and other members of the media. “They gotta be more physical, they gotta bring a physical presence and they’ve got to take pride in guarding their man.” James adds: “It ain’t about a group, it’s about individuals. … You can’t preach toughness, you’ve got to have it.”
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- The Pistons are in danger of sliding out of the playoff race and coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy is groping for solutions, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Detroit has lost five of its last six, including a last-second defeat to the Eastern Conference’s worst team, the Nets. “I think it’s pretty clear from these six games that I’m not finding the answers and not doing a very good job, so it starts with me. I’m the person in charge,” Van Gundy told Langlois and the assembled media. “I selected everybody in that locker room. I’m the one who wanted them in there. I decide who plays. I put lineups out there. I decide on defensive coverages. I call plays. So it’s all on me.”
- Dion Waiters‘ left ankle sprain has shown progress, so the Heat have not scheduled an MRI, Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post tweets. Waiters wanted an MRI if he hadn’t felt improvement, Chiang adds. Waiters has missed the last two games after suffering the injury on March 17th.
- The Hornets will not participate in the trend of resting players, according to David Scott of the Charlotte Observer. That would go against the philosophy of owner Michael Jordan and assistant coach Patrick Ewing, who didn’t take games off when they played, Scott adds. “It’s easy for me, because I’m working for an owner who just doesn’t believe in it,” coach Steve Clifford told Scott. “And I have an associate head coach who would kill me if I started doing it.”