OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Cleveland Cavaliers spoke frequently about pushing the pace against the Golden State Warriors ahead of the start of the NBA Finals.
Then Thursday, in Game 1, they played a slow-'em-down, grind-it-out game that had a pace that could be characterized as slightly faster than plodding.
But after a 104-89 loss, the Cavaliers are repeating the same chorus they were singing before Game 1.
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"We want to play faster. We have to push the pace. We know that's what we've got to do," Tristan Thompson said before the Cavs practiced at Oracle Arena Friday.
The sentiment was echoed by the whole Cavs team, as well as coach Tyronn Lue.
It begs the question: If Cleveland planned on doing it before Game 1, and Cleveland is saying they needed to do it after Game 1, then they obviously feel pretty strongly about increasing the pace. So why didn't the Cavs actually do that in Game 1?
Well, it turns out it's really hard to do it against the Warriors' defense.
"When you're switching 1 through 5 [as the Warriors do with most every lineup they put on the floor], it makes you stagnant," Lue said. "It makes you play one-on-one. So the best thing to do is try to get the matchup you want and try to [exploit] it."
The Warriors' defense is not going to change -- they've switched almost everything for two years -- and the Cavs know the advantageous move against that kind of defense is to play isolation basketball, which they did Thursday.
But still, the call Friday was for more pace and ball movement and less isolation.
The difference in gameplans couldn't be starker, and yet both viewpoints are being presented as if they aren't diametrically opposite, or at least they were Friday.
So what's the actual plan?
Lue admitted Friday that it probably doesn't matter much.
"You can go in with a gameplan," Lue said. "But the game dictates who you play and how you play."
Perhaps having two gameplans changes that.
The Cavs are in an unenviable situation -- the Warriors have proved over the last year that they can beat the Cavs in a half-court game. The Warriors have won six straight against the Cavs -- the last three games of last season's NBA Finals, twice in the regular season, and again Thursday -- and the Cavs played with a slow pace in all six of those games.
But speeding up the pace might be an equally deadly proposition for Cleveland, because the Warriors are nearly impossible to beat in a fast-paced game.
If you're LeBron James, how do you reconcile those realities?
"It's a fine line. I'm ok with us having some isolation basketball if we're going quick. But we're holding the ball and we're just starting down the defense and we're staring down the ball, then it can become a problem for us," James said.
We'll see if the Cavs can walk that fine line Sunday night.