OAKLAND, Calif. — The Cavaliers have been a pretty relaxed bunch throughout the NBA playoffs. After taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, the players surprised coach Tyronn Lue in the locker room, dousing him with water for his 10-0 postseason record. The Cavaliers lost the next two games to the Raptors, but Lue said he was glad because he didn't want his team to have another extended break before the NBA Finals.

Now they face Game 2 against the Warriors. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the Cavs have work to do.

Despite a 12-2 postseason record, the Cavaliers went into Thursday with plenty to prove, to themselves, to those who believed they were dominating in a much easier weight class in the East, and especially to Warriors. Their dominance in the East meant little. The Warriors beat them three consecutive times after falling behind 2-1 to win the title last season, and then defeated them twice during the regular season, including a 34-point beating in Cleveland back in January.

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The Warriors know who they are. They have the players and formula for beating these Cavs. This series then is about the Cavs proving they can close the gap on the defending champions, which made Thursday's 104-89 Game 1 loss a familiar story for Cleveland: close, but back to the drawing board searching for answers.

The relaxed tone gave way to a more business-like feel in the Cavs locker room afterward. You could sense the urgency in the players' responses, even if they're not willing to allow Thursday's defeat to mean anything more than an opening loss. It felt like more than that, especially since the Cavs have now lost six consecutive games to the Warriors dating back to last year's Finals. Yes, the Cavs are healthier this time around, and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love did contribute in Game 1. But if this season's team is healthier and better, it must prove it by winning a game — and then a few more.

LeBron is back in a much more comfortable role in these Finals, no longer having to be the high-volume shooter forced to carry a short-handed team against a superior opponent. In the first quarter alone in Game 1, he repeatedly drove to the basket, past the defense of Harrison Barnes, other times over a second defender coming to help. On one possession, Stephen Curry switched onto James in the low post, and the defense collapsed in the paint to allow LeBron to find Love for a wide-open corner 3 look.

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Meanwhile, the Warriors' backcourt struggled, and you could see a formula coming together for the Cavs to pull an upset. But if it wasn't one thing, it was another. A serie

s of events snowballing together that sent Cleveland back to answering the same questions about coming up short against this team.

"We missed 28 shots in the paint," Lue said after the loss. "We didn't finish around the basket, so we've just got to keep playing the same way we were playing. I thought we were fine. I feel good about how we played. The outcome wasn't great for us, the score, but to get to the basket missing 28 shots in the paint, that's not us."

The Warriors tend to make other teams feel out of sorts. Lue could have pointed to Barnes and Andrew Bogut leading the scoring with 13 points combined in the first, or Shaun Livingston scoring 20 points in 26 minutes, or Leandro Barbosa hitting all five of his shots in 11 minutes, all of them feeling like backbreakers; or Andre Iguodala, who played a major role in keying a 15-0 Warriors run after Cleveland had erased a 14-point deficit and took the lead late in the third. Curry and Klay Thompson shot a combined 8-for-27, but the Warriors bench outscored the Cavs 45-10. Cleveland allowed 25 points off 17 turnovers. There was plenty of blame to go around.

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It might be tempting to suggest the Warriors won despite the uncharacteristic poor shooting of Curry and Thompson, but it's really no different from how Golden State defeated Cleveland in last year's Finals, when Steve Kerr brought David Lee off the bench at the end of a blowout loss in Game 3 and helped trigger the move to a smaller lineup for the rest of the series. It was Iguodala who moved into the starting lineup and became the best two-way player in the series, winning the Finals MVP in the process. Curry and Thompson have the most memorable performances, but these Warriors have been doing it with their depth for a while now, something James knows very well.

"They got to the point where they were last year and won a championship because of their whole team and their bench," the two-time champion said. "And they're here once again in The Finals because of their whole team. So nothing has really changed. They're a team that's had another year under their belt, and they've exceeded what they did last year."

It's up to the Cavs then to exceed their own performance from last year, especially now that their key three players are healthy and have been playing well throughout the playoffs. Love finished Game 1 with 17 points and 13 rebounds but is still being taken advantage of in the pick-and-roll on defense.

"In transition we just have to match up with them," Love said. "We had breakdowns when we needed to get stops."

Irving led the team with 26 points, but many of his shots came on ball-stopping possessions. The Cavs are better off with Irving playing off the ball and having LeBron facilitate the action as the primary point of attack. Irving can score, but they need him to do so efficiently.

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The rest of the team must cut down on defensive lapses that led to easy baskets for the Warriors. LeBron, who posted a near triple-double, needs to do more, and has to continue to attack the basket instead of settling for jumpers, which he started doing in the second half. There's plenty to improve for the Cavs, but you could say the same for the Warriors. Cleveland might think they can tilt the equation in their favor by playing better and correcting their mistakes in Game 2, but they're facing an opponent that has a higher ceiling.

It's only one game, but it's already feeling like Cleveland might run out of chances soon to prove that this healthier, supposedly improved version of the team can indeed compete with a team that continues to dominate them.