OAKLAND, United States: LeBron James and his Cleveland teammates will need quicker decisions and more aggressive play in Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) second game of the NBA Finals after the Cavaliers were routed by Golden State in the opener.
The Warriors ripped defending NBA champion Cleveland 113-91 on Thursday behind 38 points from star forward Kevin Durant, many of them on slam dunks, and 28 by guard Stephen Curry, who sank six 3-pointers as the best-of-seven championship series began.
“I know we’ll play better come Sunday,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “But we have to take away the easy baskets. We did a poor job of taking care of the basketball and they were able to get out in transition and get easy baskets.”
Lue won’t make any changes in the starting lineup after watching a horror show game film, but he does want to see quicker decision making, saying hesitation led to turnovers, and more assertive moves.
“We have to just do a better job of being direct with what we want to do,” Lue said. “We can’t be caught in between. That’s when turnovers happen. We have to be aggressive getting to the basket or making the right passes and right play. We can’t play in between.”
The Cavaliers committed 20 turnovers, eight of them by playmaker James on a night where he had 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Golden State had only four giveaways, matching a finals record low.
“Take away those easy baskets and them having 20 more shots than we did, it’s a different ball game,” Lue said.
Warriors acting coach Mike Brown expects a better showing Sunday from the Cavaliers.
“Definitely somebody will have to do a better job at stopping the dribble drive,” Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said.
“We all knew and saw that they were very concerned with the three-point shooters, and Kevin Durant (was) able to drive to the rim with uncontested dunks.”
Warriors expect better Cavs
There is a chance Warriors coach Steve Kerr, out since game three of the playoffs with complications after 2015 back surgery, could return Sunday. But Brown is calling the shots for now.
“They’re a good team. They’re going to make adjustments,” Brown said. “We expect them to play better. They’re going to be more focused in terms of what they want to accomplish on both ends of the floor.
“Having film to go back and watch, make adjustments from, get used to the tempo and so on, will allow them to come in feeling better about their game plan.”
Cavaliers forward Kevin Love says execution, not effort, is what must improve.
“Defensively our schemes were there. We just need to execute them,” Love said. “That’s ultimately what showed up on the tape and what Ty continues to preach to us.
“Guys just need to settle in. Now that certain guys have gotten a taste of it, I think you’ll see a lot better showing in game two. It’s not for lack of effort. Guys are competing very hard. It’s just us focusing that much more on the game plan and knowing how we have to play.”
Assertive and aggressive
Cleveland’s renewed focus on stopping Durant should open opportunities for Curry and Klay Thompson.
“We’re going to have to help him out as far as knocking shots down from the perimeter,” Thompson said. “We have to have the mindset of a must win, because (Thursday’s) great game almost means nothing if we lose on Sunday.”
Thompson said he expects a more physical game from Cleveland on Sunday and Love said the Cavs will try to be more forceful in hopes of creating more turnovers.
“Just make them feel us. At certain points we did that, but we have to do that throughout,” Love said. “The onus is definitely on us. That’s a mindset. We need to be super assertive, super aggressive on the defensive end.”
And they can’t commit 20 turnovers.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” Lue said. “We have to take good shots. We have to get the matchups we like and take advantage. It’s just a lot of things that we can correct and we will correct them going into game two.”