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Tyronn Lue meant ‘nothing bad’ with ‘gooning’ talk about Celtics

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has sought to clarify comments made about how the Boston Celtics are “gooning the game up” in the Eastern Conference Finals. In essence, Lue insists it was not technically intended as an insult.

“Physicality,” Lue said after practice Thursday, via the Boston Herald. “Nothing bad. I like it. But physicality, hard fouls, into our body, into our airspace, and they’re just playing tough.

“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.”

The Celtics of course have stormed out to a 2-0 series lead primarily by outworking and out-muscling the Cavs. After the Celtics’ 2017-94 win Tuesday night in which things got a little chippy — on both sides — Lue pointed out as much.

“We have to be tougher,” Lue said. “I think they’re playing tougher than we are. We’re seeing that. They’re being physical. They’re gooning the game up, and we have to do the same thing. We have to be tougher mentally and physically.”

Suffice to say, the Celtics had some thoughts on Lue’s comments.

“Gooning? That’s a good word,” Morris said. “S—, we’re doing what it takes. Whatever it takes, every player, 1 to 15, whatever it takes, that’s what we’re doing. You call it what you want to call it. We’re just trying to get the win.”

There’s of course bound to be chipiness in the postseason — it’s inevitable — especially when teams squaring off have some familiarity with one another, especially in the playoffs.

While things so far have hardly got out of hand on the court between the Cavaliers and Celtics, Lue’s assertion of “gooning” had a lot more to do with gamesmanship and concern over how the Celtics are taking it to his team than anything else.

After all, should the Cavs lose Game 3 on their home court on Saturday, the team’s quest for another appearance in the NBA Finals will take a critical blow, one the Cavs conceivably could not overcome, even with James.