LeBron James notched a triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds during the Cleveland Cavaliers' 98-80 postseason loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, but head coach Tyronn Lue is looking for more aggression from his go-to option in Wednesday's Game 2.
"He has to be aggressive and set the tone early," Lue said Monday, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. "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."
Cleveland was in comeback mode throughout the contest after the Pacers jumped out to a commanding lead, and McMenamin noted James' first shot came with one minute and 52 seconds remaining in the opening quarter and his team facing a 25-8 deficit.
James did what he could to pull the Cavaliers within single digits, but they were never able to overcome their slow start despite playing on their home floor at Quicken Loans Arena.
For his part, James pointed to Indiana's defensive strategy and focus on taking the ball out of his hands.
"That's just how the game was being played," James said, per McMenamin. "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."
James wasn't the only one Lue wanted to be more aggressive, as he pointed to Kevin Love's effort as well after the All-Star member of the frontcourt was just 3-of-8 from the field in the loss.
"It's not enough," Lue said, per McMenamin. "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."
Indiana's defense deserves plenty of recognition for the win, as it was swarming to Cleveland shooters throughout the contest. The Cavaliers finished with 16 turnovers, three of which came from James, and shot a lackluster 38.5 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from three-point range.
Those numbers aren't going to cut it for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions, especially since they were an abysmal 29th in the league in defensive rating this season, per NBA.com.
There's a chance that defense could rear its ugly head in Game 2, which underscores how important it is for James and Love to display aggressiveness on the offensive end. If they don't, the Cavaliers could be facing a 2-0 deficit before they even hit the road in this series.