Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue is no longer new to staging 3-1 comebacks, and that much is clear in their 116-102 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
Lue was part of the most epic 3-1 comeback of all when he guided LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA title over the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. And before Monday’s game, the 44-year-old coach revealed what he has learned from that historic victory and how the Clippers can use it to stage their own come-from-behind upset.
According to Lue, the key is taking over the first quarter of games and building from that. That is exactly what LeBron James did for the Cavs in 2016, setting the tone early to control the proceedings.
Ty Lue said what he learned from the Cavs comeback from down 3-1 against Golden State in the 2016 Finals was that it started with winning the first quarter. LeBron set the tone early. He says Clippers have to focus on winning the first quarter and keep going from there.
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) June 27, 2021
In Game 5, the Clippers did exactly that and it paid off big time. Ty Lue’s squad dominated the opening frame, scoring 36 in the process over the Suns’ 26 firs-quarter points. Marcus Morris was sensational in setting that much needed tone and physicality, as he made 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting to power LA.
While the Suns were not easy to stave off, with Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton putting Phoenix back up when the Clippers were building a huge lead, their efforts proved to be not enough to overcome LA.
However, had the Clippers not taken control of the first quarter, it’s more than likely that the series is over now. There were moments that LA seemed to be losing their grip on the lead and Phoenix appeared ready to take over. Thanks to the huge lead they have built, though, Phoenix’s struggled to complete the turnaround.
Lue will surely hope they’ll be able to replicate the same success they had in Game 6, and they should be motivated by the fact that they are playing at home–which could be their last of the season if they don’t step up.