The Indiana Pacers took Game 1 with assertiveness and aggression. They kept Cleveland on their heels by constantly attacking. The lead got up to 21 in the first quarter and while Cleveland came within striking distance, they just couldn’t get over the hump. In Game 2, roles must be reversed if the Cavaliers don’t want to go down 0-2.
Early on, you could see that the Cavaliers were disengaged in the game. They looked like a team who’s been in three straight NBA Finals and thought they were going to walk their way to the finals yet again. There was no sense of urgency or any pep in their step on either side of the ball. They walked the ball up the court, took their time on offense while jogging and not getting back on defense.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) April 15, 2018
Tyronn Lue harped on the need for the Cleveland Cavaliers to come out much more aggressive in Game 2 and it has to start with LeBron James. The four-time MVP is the one guy that Indiana has no answer for. When James wanted to he scored at will. Even with the intensity and/or shenanigans of Lance Stephenson, James couldn’t be stopped. While I know he likes to start off passive to seek his teammates early, the Cavaliers are best when James is assertive, dictating the offense.
However, I’m not sure how much the legs of James can withstand. I know we love to talk about how great of a physical specimen he is but at the end of the day, he still gets tired. In Game 1, there was a moment where he told Lue to pull him out because he was just exhausted. This is where James and the Cavaliers miss having a guy like Kyrie Irving who can create when he’s tired or on the bench. Kevin Love is their second guy, but he’s not really the one to create for himself.
We know Cleveland is not going to shoot as poorly as they did in Game 1 so that’s something they can bank on but they have to dictate the pace. It starts with defense and focusing on getting stops. In return, that can get them out in the open court and James can do what he does. If they’re going to be victorious, the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be aggressive and it has to start with #23.