Cavs to hasten pace, boost bench effort against Warriors
OAKLAND, USA – Attacking earlier, quickening the tempo and improving bench play were the biggest needs the Cleveland Cavaliers saw Friday in video reviews to decide changes for Sunday's second game of the NBA Finals.
Defending champion Golden State defeated the visiting Cavaliers 104-89 in Thursday's opener of the best-of-7 series, using defense and stellar reserve efforts to frustrate LeBron James and his teammates.
"We're in a good place psychologically and mentally," Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said. "We remain calm, but also know this next game is huge for us. We remain having a sense of urgency and we're going to continue to fight."
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue made his instructions clear.
"I just told LeBron I need him to play faster, to pick up the pace for us offensively," Lue said. "We can definitely get out and run and attack this team.
"We missed 9 point-blank layups when no one was around. We've got to be able to finish those shots."
The Cavaliers hit a woeful 38.1 percent from the floor, hurrying rather than imposing a pace. (WATCH: NBA Finals Game 1 highlights)
"It has to be more of a fast-paced controlled tempo. Our missed opportunities – we were just really rushing," Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said. "Everything is happening so quick. A couple times I got indecisive and it put my teammates in a bad way."
'Throw the first punch'
Think fast and attack first was the message.
"We've just got to come out right away and throw the first punch," Cleveland's Tristan Thompson said. "We've got to set the tone early. I think that's key."
"We need to do a better job of being in attack mode," Love agreed. "We felt like we could play with a better pace. We need to find a way to really slow down their bench."
Golden State reserves outscored Cleveland's bench 45-10, with James warning that Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Andre Iguodala must be better contained when they enter to rest sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
"No other team has the two best shooters in the league and that many playmakers," James said. "We cannot relax when those guys make their subs. Those guys come into the game and change tempo and play with confidence. We have to understand. We have to treat those guys like All-Stars.
"It's not that we relax. It's just that when... they come out, your defense doesn't have to be so extended. Your defense is picked up a little bit lower so those guys get to their sweet spots. We may have to change that approach a little bit."
And the Cavaliers bench needs to score more as well.
"Our bench has been productive for us," James said. "They are going to have to have a great series in order for us to win it. We have a lot of pride from our bench. They are going to take that even better in game two."
Aimed for arm, not groin
Cavs reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova faced accusations of dirty play for the second NBA Finals in a row after hitting Iguodala in the groin. The Australian said he was trying to foul Iguodala on the arm to halt a fast break.
"I was trying to stop the break," Dellavedova said. "I definitely didn't intend to hit him anywhere near that region. I was trying to get his arm and then he brought his arm in, and that's why I just grazed his arm."
The Aussie admitted being "a little bit" bothered by the dirty player talk, but added, "You just don't pay any attention to it."
What he will focus on is trying to avoid another 15-0 run by Golden State reserves.
"We need to perform a lot better as a group," Dellavedova said. "Their bench came in, did a really good job changing the tempo of the game. We need to do a few different things." – Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com