Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue tells team winning should be only thing that matters

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue scoffed when asked if he employed any motivational tactics to prepare his Cavs for Game 1 of their first-round series with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.

"Yeah, I kicked the trash can over, turned the table over, and yeah, that's about it," Lue said facetiously.

While there was no rah-rah speech or Mark Twain quote uttered by Lue, as he did in the NBA Finals last June, he did have a message to impart this week beyond X's and O's.

Lue told his team -- which has eight of its top 11 rotation players inked to multiyear deals past this season -- that winning should be the only thing that matters. Not the margin of victory. Not which players contribute to the win. Just winning.

"You can average 100 points and 50 rebounds in the playoffs, and you're still getting paid the same next year. None of y'all are free (agents)," Lue said Friday.

It's a practical message, and it's meant to appeal to the pride of his group. Now that the playoffs have finally arrived, after a season in which his players' potential as true contenders was questioned ad nauseam, why not just win games as a group? Because no individual agenda will benefit anyone anyway.

The sentiment has already been adopted by Lue's players, as they all got together for a team dinner in downtown Cleveland on Thursday night, which was a ritual during their 2016 postseason run.

"We definitely have the group to do it," said Kevin Love. "But it's on us. We've got to go out there and play hard on both sides of the ball. I think if we do that, get our fans involved, get the city really behind us again, I think it could be ... last year was magical for us. We're hoping to create the same sort of feeling."

While Love offered the memories of 2016 in an answer after practice Friday, Kyrie Irving would not go there.

"It's no comparison," Irving said. "It's a totally different season, totally different team."

To Irving's point, Cleveland does have different personnel than a year ago, and all of the new players who figure to get postseason playing time -- Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and Derrick Williams -- are actually free agents, poking a hole in Lue's point.

The caveat, of course, is that Deron Williams, 32, has already made $130 million in his career. Korver, 36, has made $60 million. And Derrick Williams, 25, has made a relatively pithy $30 million. He has already upped his free agency value since joining the Cavs, more than he would have if had he stayed on the bench in Miami.

As much as Lue has simplified the task in front of his team, there seems to be a confidence based on how his players handled their complicated route to the Finals the last two seasons, after LeBron James came back to Cleveland.

"I think more than anything, experience," Love said. "We have a lot of guys, a lot of veterans that have been through it. We can share our different experiences in both conferences, in conference finals, NBA Finals. We have the luxury of knowing what it takes. Also, having everybody healthy is great; we hopefully want to keep it that way moving forward. We have a lot of things on our side right now, but we also have a lot to prove. I think that makes it great for this team."