In Cleveland’s 98-80 Game 1 loss on Sunday, James did not attempt a shot until there was 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, at which point the Cavs already trailed 25-8.
“He has to be aggressive and set the tone early,” Lue said Monday. “We talked about that today … being aggressive early, setting the tone, especially for these new guys, bringing these guys along. He understood that but once again, he’s always a guy trying to get his teammates off early, get them guys going, then try to feel the game out. But be ready to set a tone.”
James explained Sunday that he was, in essence, taking what the defense was giving him.
“That’s just how the game was being played,” James said after totaling 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in 44 minutes. “Guys had great looks and they just didn’t go down. … There was two on the ball at times. I was assisting and guys just couldn’t make shots to start the game, so it was just how the game was going on.”
Lue said James was in good spirits after their talk Monday.
“He felt good,” Lue said. “His body felt good. I know he played 40-some minutes, but he said his body felt good. He’s in a good place. (James) just said, ‘We got to be more aggressive offensively, me being aggressive.’ That’s about it.”
Beyond James’ part in turning things around for the Cavs in Game 2, Lue was asked if he was contemplating changing up his lineup.
“We’re looking at it but I’m not going to talk about it,” Lue said.
“We’ve been talking about it as a staff,” Lue said. “I just know those guys have been through everything with us the last four years and we won a championship, went to three Finals. Tristan and JR played a big part of that. We understand that and trust me, we know that.”
Lue’s lineup adjustments could be born out of necessity as much as schematic invention. George Hill, who was cracked in the back by a Trevor Booker screen on Sunday, was still feeling the effects Monday.
“Stiff. Stiff. Couldn’t do a lot today,” Lue said. “Getting a lot of treatment and see how he feels going forward.”
Kyle Korver, who was already on a minutes restriction heading into Game 1 because of a sore right foot, missed Monday’s film session and walk-through because of an illness, the team said. Korver played just four minutes in the series opener, going 0-for-3 from the field.
Of course, as much as the Cavs may have been done in by inefficient lineups on Sunday, the fact of the matter is they shot just 38.5 percent overall as a team (including a 23.5 percent mark from beyond the arc) and 60 percent from the free-throw line.
Jeff Green, the biggest culprit after shooting 0-for-7, acknowledged his role in the loss.
“Just missed shots,” Green said. “Just chose the wrong game to miss shots. That’s about it.”
There was also the issue of shot distribution in Game 1. Kevin Love went just 3-for-8 from the field.
“It’s not enough,” Lue said, adding that he had addressed Love on Monday. “He had small guys on him and he’s floating out to 3. He’s got to demand the ball in the post. He said he has to be more aggressive. They’re trying to be physical with him on his post-ups but he’s seeing that a lot of times before. We’ve got to do a better job of getting into him because they’re playing a hard three-quarters so our guards got to be able to deliver the ball on target and he has to be aggressive when he gets it.”
Overall, Lue said that the film session didn’t make Game 1 seem like such a nightmare.
“We just got to do a better job offensively scoring the basketball and taking care of the basketball,” Lue said. “We can’t give up 21 points in transition. That’s where they thrive. If we can take those little easy points away, I think we’ll be fine.”
Or, as Rodney Hood put it: “We’ll play a lot better I know. We can’t play any worse than we did.”