LeBron James tallied a triple-double during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers. On most nights, that would be enough to pick up a victory—or at least keep his team within striking distance until the final buzzer. But it wasn’t. The Cavaliers artificially hung around before fading away during the tail end of the quarter.
And so, LeBron will have to do even more in Game 2.
Or so says head coach Tyronn Lue.
Per ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
“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 attempted 17 shots in Game 1, hitting seven, while taking 14 free throws. It’s not in his nature to go off for 20-plus shots every game, and he told reports, per McMenamin, that he was essentially taking what the Pacers gave him.
To his credit, neither Lue nor anyone else is probably singing this song if LeBron’s teammates hit more of their shots. The Cavaliers were, collectively, 7-of-28 on threes in which no defender was within four feet of them, according to NBA.com. Kevin Love also only attempted eight shots of his own.
Still, Bojan Bogdanovic defended LeBron almost 60 percent of the time, per NBA.com’s tracking data. The Cavaliers came away with just 0.80 points per possession in those situations, and James himself ended up attempting only six shots. If the Pacers stick with Bogdanovic as their primary defender, then yeah, James has to be more aggressive.
More importantly, if his teammates don’t up their efficiency, he’ll have to shoulder a heavier shot load no matter what.