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Cavaliers' adjustments for Game 2 may include lineup changes

By JOE VARDON • Apr 17, 2018 at 12:00 PM

INDEPENDENCE — Kevin Love is going to take more than eight shots and LeBron James is going to shoot before there is 1:24 left in the first quarter.

Jeff Green can't go 0-for-7, the Cavs need to do better than 8-of-34 from 3-point range and 17 turnovers are probably too many.

In addition to all that, though, coach Tyronn Lue is considering lineup changes ahead of Game 2 of this first-round series with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. The Pacers clobbered Cleveland 98-80 in Game 1 Sunday.

"We're looking at it but I'm not going to talk about it," Lue said after Monday's film session and walk through.

JR Smith scored 15 points off the bench Sunday in 29 minutes. Tristan Thompson played the last two minutes of the game with the outcome already secured by the Pacers.

Of the two, Smith would probably be a more likely candidate to start Wednesday, but there's a broader point.

While both struggled through some of the worst regular seasons of their careers, each started for the Cavs during all three of their previous Finals runs. There are only four players left from the 2016 championship team; perhaps they are who the Cavs could rely on to get them to a fourth.

The current Cavs have two players — Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Cedi Osman — who played their first playoff games Sunday. Rodney Hood made his first playoff start. Jose Calderon has never been out of the first round and Green's never been out of the second.

The Cavs know the moment won't be too big for Smith and Thompson.

"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 J.R. played a big part of that. We understand that and trust me, we know that."

Kyle Korver played just four minutes Sunday and missed practice Monday because of an illness. George Hill sustained a back injury Sunday and participated in Monday's walk through, but he was "stiff," Lue said. So any celebrating the Cavs did heading into Game 1 for finally being healthy was short lived.

In the meantime, Lue had conversations with the other two remaining members of the Cavs' 2016 championship team.

James finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, but had just two points in the first quarter on free throws and went nearly 11 minutes before attempting a shot. By the time he took that shot, the Cavs were already down 18.

"He has to be aggressive and set the tone early," Lue said. "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."

Six of Love's eight shots were 3s. The Cavs want him shooting far more than that overall, and they'd like him to establish himself in the post -- especially when 6-8 Thaddeus Young is guarding him (Love's 6-10).

"He's got to demand the ball in the post," Love said. "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."

Lue said after Sunday's game he had an idea of his best lineup, and on Monday said he didn't use it against the Pacers. "Couldn't get to it," he said, which leaves one to wonder if said lineup includes Korver -- who is both hurt and apparently sick.

It remains to be seen how dramatically Lue shifts from his Game 1 lineup, but even if he does start Smith (over Hood) and throw some minutes to Thompson, he'll still need the new guys.

They know they need to play better.

"We'll play a lot better I know," 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."

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