After getting blown out of Game 1 by the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue discussed a new gameplan with LeBron James. Lue told Brian Windhorst of ESPN that, “I just told LeBron I need him to play faster. I need him to pick up the pace for us offensively, getting the ball out and just beginning to play faster.”
The Warriors held Cleveland to 89 points, the first time this year that the Cavs were kept under 90. The uptempo part of the game was an afterthought for both sides, and Basketball-Reference noted that there were roughly 90 possessions in the ball game. Cleveland is 28th in the league in pace at 93.3, so being at 90 or less is slow, even by their standards.
“[The Warriors] make you stagnant and make you play one-on-one basketball because that’s all you can get,” said Lue via Windhorst. “So if we pick up the pace and play with a faster tempo offensively, I think we’ll be fine.”
LeBron James also spoke to Windhorst about the plans his coach has given him:
“Coach has given us a game plan, and we need to execute it. If coach feels like we need to play faster, then we do. We’ve got to push the tempo a little bit more offensively, see if we can get down, get some easy buckets, and get to the flow of out game. It’s been a good thing for us throughout the whole season once Coach Lue took over, so we need to do that.”
I know it’s a given, but if Cleveland is going to play fast against the Warriors they need to do two things: convert shots at the basket and not turn the ball over. If they start getting reckless with the ball while trying to be uptempo, it’s over. Golden State forced the Cavaliers into 17 turnovers in the first game and got 25 points out of it.
It’s odd that Lue would stress pushing the ball against the Warriors, who are one of the most lethal teams in the league. If you look at the nine teams who have beaten Golden State this season, just two of them have maintained a fast pace for the entire year.