Cavs need more shots early in the clock

OAKLAND, Calif. — You would think that the team facing the Golden State Warriors in The Finals would want to slow the pace down.

But Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday that he wants his team to play faster in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).

“I need [LeBron James] to pick up the pace for us offensively, getting the ball out and just beginning to play faster,” Lue said. “Pace, so we can get up the floor and get guys open shots in transition like J.R. [Smith] and Kevin [Love] and Channing [Frye] and those guys. But I think the floor’s more open when you’re able to play with pace and LeBron and Kyrie [Irving] can get downhill.”

It may seem silly for the Cavs to try to play at the Warriors’ pace, but offensive pace and defensive pace are two separate things. The Cavs can do their best to slow down the Warriors while also getting into their offense earlier.

And the numbers say that the latter would be prudent. League-wide, shooting percentage goes down with the shot clock. And in Game 1, there was a big difference between the shots the Cavs got in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock and the shots they got in the last 12 seconds.

In the initial shot clock (not counting shots after an offensive rebound or situations where the shot clock was off), Cleveland shot 52 percent in the first 12 seconds of the clock and only 36 percent in the last 12 seconds, according to SportVU.

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But the Cavs took more than twice as many shots late in the clock as they did early in the clock on Thursday. In the regular season, the Cavs took 48 percent of their shots in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock, a rate which ranked 23rd in the league. They have guys who can bail them out in late-clock situations, but Lue would rather his team not get into those.

Transition offense starts with a stop on defense, but Lue wants his team to push the ball off both makes and misses.

“We’re playing against a half-court defense, they’re switching 1 through 5, they make you stagnant and make you play one-on-one basketball because that’s all you can get,” he said. “So if we pick up the pace and play with a faster tempo offensively, I think we’ll be fine.”

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