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Cavaliers report: Lineup and role changes could be in store as coach Tyronn Lue mulls adjustments for Game 2 against Pacers

The Akron Beacon Journal — Marla Ridenour The Akron Beacon Journal

April 16--INDEPENDENCE -- Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue and his staff are looking at lineup changes.

There's a possibility that the Cavs' 10-man rotation could be reduced, although injuries could play a part.

There's been a discussion about reserves J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson being a part of the Cavs teams that have gone to three consecutive Finals and among the four holdovers from the 2016 championship team, which might indicate a bigger role for both.

Lue said he couldn't get to what he believes is his best five, which would seem to indicate it includes shooting guard Kyle Korver, who was on a minutes restriction because of a sore right foot.

Kevin Love must take more than eight shots. LeBron James must be more aggressive early. The Cavs can't allow the Pacers to score 21 points in transition, or commit 17 turnovers that turned into 20 Pacers' points.

Those were some of the takeaways after the Cavs' 98-80 loss to the Pacers Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Pacers improved to 4-1 against the Cavs this season as the Cavs dropped their first first-round game in four seasons. Game 2 is Wednesday night at the Q.

"We'll play a lot better, I know," guard Rodney Hood said. "We can't play any worse than we did. We've just got to take care of the ball, get good shots. I think defensively we did a solid job, but I think offensively we can't give them any ammo to come at us."

The mood at Cleveland Clinic Courts Monday was upbeat. James and Smith played a boisterous shooting game against Jordan Clarkson and Hood. The coaches gathered around newly signed center Kendrick Perkins and there were smiles all around the circle.

Jeff Green said tunnel vision is required as the Cavs work to even the best-of-seven series.

"Media is going to speculate on how the locker room is, how our mental is," Green said. "But we know what we have to do the next game. We can't allow the outside pressure of what people have said, the stories they create to affect how we're going to play."

The Cavs don't have to list injury status until Tuesday, but there are questions. Point guard George Hill was hit in the back on an illegal screen from Trevor Booker and forced to sit for the final 21 minutes. Lue said Hill's back was stiff, he couldn't do much and needed a lot of treatment. Korver missed Monday's film session and walk-through with an illness. He played only four minutes Sunday, lifted when the game got out of hand.

The Cavs totaled their fewest points in a playoff game since June 5, 2016, when they put up 77 in a 33-point Game 2 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. They came back from a 3-1 deficit in that series to capture the championship.

Against the Pacers, the Cavs shot 8-of-34 from 3-point range. Of the starters, Green went scoreless, Love and Hood scored nine points each and Hill seven. James turned in his 20th career postseason triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Asked what troubled him most offensively, Lue said, "Being aggressive, attacking. We had some shots we turned down, a chance to drive closeouts and make another play and we didn't. I just thought their physicality on post-ups and everything was a lot for us."

Lue said he talked to Love about having smaller men guarding him and drifting out to the 3-point line instead of demanding the ball in the post. Lue said he discussed being aggressive and setting the tone early with James, who didn't take a shot until 1:52 remained in the first quarter. He had a similar message for Green, who went 0-for-7 from the field, 0-for-3 from long range.

"Attacking the basket and just don't settle. Be aggressive. If you're going to make a mistake, make an aggressive mistake," Lue said of Green. "He understands that."

Green said he "just chose the wrong game to miss shots."

"They were wide open. Just gotta make 'em next time," Green said. "If they're gonna leave me open, I'm going to continue to shoot them. They're gonna fall. I'm not going to adjust to them, they have to adjust to how I'm going to play."

Lue said he thought the Cavs did some good things defensively. The concern is offense, especially how to handle the Pacers' pressure defense.

"First of all, you've got to attack it. They're trying to get into our guards, trying to pressure, which is fine," Lue said. "But we've got to do a better job of owning our space, being comfortable with it. It's not like Muggsy Bogues pressure. They are getting up the floor and trying to hound our guards, they're doing a better job of setting screens in the back court.

"It wasn't that bad. We've just got to do a better job scoring and taking care of the basketball. 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."

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

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