Kevin Love grabbed the rebound, one of his four, and turned to look up court. Instead of launching one of his customary outlet passes — touchdowns, as he likes to call them — or quickly seeking help from one of the guards, Love started dribbling toward the other end by himself.
It’s the second time in the last few days that Love — and other non-guards — have taken this approach.
The phrase pushing the pace can have a lot of different definitions. For some teams, it’s about seeking shots early in the clock, trying to get as many possessions as possible throughout a game. For others, it’s about sprinting to the other end and trying to attack before a defense can get set. Or maybe it’s just playing with a purpose while not holding the ball and surveying the defense. There’s also the stat used by the NBA — an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes by a team.
So what’s the Cavs’ definition? Tuesday provided that answer.
Lue wants quick decisions. He also wants more passing and movement. Whether it’s a rebound or a made shot, Lue wants the Cavs getting the ball ahead quickly. He’s given his players freedom to grab and go, even if it’s not the typical break-starter.
“Overall in that first half having four turnovers with the pace we played at was really good,” he said. “Have to keep building off that and continue to keep getting in better shape. Overall I thought the activity, effort and pace was there.”
According to NBA.com stats, the Cavs PACE metric was 100.3. Accounting for only the first half, when the Cavs played their regulars and pounded the Celtics by 19 points in those 24 minutes, the number was 102.4.
Lue later said the team got bogged down in the second half, as not everyone knew what they were doing.
So let’s put this in perspective. The number 102.4, if extrapolated over the course of an entire season, would have placed fourth in the NBA.
Last year’s Cavs failed to reach that mark in 60 of the 82 games. Sure, there will be growing pains and old habits still need broke, but playing fast has been stressed since Day 1. In their first crack at it, the Cavs put words into action.
“We feel like we can take it to a whole ‘nother level,” Love said. “We feel like that is going to be our identity — pushing the ball 1-5 and we did that tonight. Take advantage of mismatches, make teams play at our pace. We still feel like we can take it a notch or two up, with us being ready to play 48 minutes and a lot of guys saw minutes tonight in that second half and we feel like we are in a good place right now, but there’s a couple more weeks of training camp and we look forward to opening night.”