INDEPENDENCE — LeBron James knows it, Kevin Love knows it and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue knows it.
Heck, everyone knows it.
Cleveland’s two All-Stars have to do more — and do it sooner as well as later — when the Cavs host the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of a best-of-seven series Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.
In Cleveland’s 98-80 loss Sunday in Game 1 — the Cavs scored fewer points just once in the regular season — James had six points on 1-for-6 shooting over the first and fourth periods, while Indiana’s Victor Oladipo had 21 on 7-for-11. Love didn’t score in either quarter, and not coincidentally the Cavs were outscored 58-29 over those 24 minutes.
Love, in fact, didn’t score his first points until hitting a 3-pointer with 1:53 to play in the first half. For the day, he had nine points on 3-for-8 shooting. Six of his attempts and all his makes were 3-pointers, with the other misses coming on 11- and 14-footers.
“That’s not enough,” Lue said Monday of his center’s eight shots. “I talked to him earlier today. He had small guys on him and he was floating out for a three. He has to demand the ball in the post. He has to be more aggressive.”
Love, who grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds, never took a shot in the paint and missed his only free throw, which came when he was fouled after making a 3-pointer.
The Cavs also failed to get the ball inside to the 10th-year pro, who was often defended by long-armed Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young, who is listed at 6-foot-8 and 221 pounds to Love’s 6-10, 251.
Of course, on the few occasions when Love even ventured into the post, Indiana center Myles Turner was nearby to help, as the Pacers basically dared Jeff Green, who went scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting, to beat them from the perimeter.
“They’re trying to be physical with him in the post as well,” Lue said. “We’ve seen that a lot of times before. We have to do a better job of getting it to him because they’re making it hard for our guards to get the ball to him on target. He has to be aggressive when he gets it.”
With Kyrie Irving no longer in a Cavs uniform, Love has to be a factor offensively, as does James, who didn’t score his first points in Game 1 until making two free throws with 1:52 left in the opening period.
James didn’t get credit for a shot attempt until missing a 3-pointer at the 1:24 mark — the Cavs were down 28-10 at that point en route to trailing 33-14 after one — and didn’t make his first field goal until the 11:08 mark of the second period.
“He has to be aggressive and set the tone early,” Lue said. “We talked about that today, also, just being aggressive and setting the tone early, especially for these new guys (Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.).
“He understood that, but once again he’s always a guy who tries to get his teammates off early, get some guys going and try to feel the game out, but he has to set the tone, too.”
James ended up playing 44 minutes and posted his 20th playoff triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, but he shot just 7-for-17 from the field, went 0-for-4 on 3-pointers while not making a shot from the perimeter and was 10-for-14 at the line.
With the Cavs down just eight after being behind by as many as 23, the four-time league MVP scored just four points on 1-for-3 shooting as Cleveland lost the fourth quarter 25-15.
Neither James nor Love talked with the media Monday, but Lue said both players realize they have to do more — and do it sooner — in Game 2.
“(James) felt good, his body felt good,” Lue said. “I know he played 44 minutes, but he’s in a good place. He said he’s got to be more aggressive offensively.”
The Cavs made just 8 of 34 3-pointers in Game 1, with Love and J.R. Smith (3-for-6, 15 points) hitting six. The rest of the team went 2-for-22 as James had his streak of first-round playoff game wins snapped at 21.
The good news for the Cavs is that in the 15th-year pro’s run of seven straight trips to the NBA Finals, his team trailed 1-0 in a series on six previous occasions in the East playoffs and advanced each time.
“We’ve just got to do a better job scoring the ball and taking care of the basketball and keeping them out of transition,” Lue said. “That’s where they thrive.”
The Cavs made 17 turnovers in Game 1.
“They’re trying to get into our guards and trying to pressure, which is fine,” Lue said. “We’ve got to do a better job of holding our space and being comfortable with it. It’s not like (5-3) Muggsy Bogues is pressuring.”
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