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16 April 2018, 04:41 | Henrietta Morgan
The Pacers Cory Joseph and the Cavs Kevin Love get entangled going for a loose ball Sunday at The Q.
Many people assumed the Pacers were entering a rebuilding stage, especially after they traded away Paul George.
IN took control from the outset, opening a 21-point lead in the first quarter and pushing it to 23 in the third.
After the loss in Game 1, James and the Cavs will look to even the series during Game 2 on Wednesday. 12 of those lineups were equal to or better defensively than their season-long average. Turner, Oladipo and Darren Collison all missed time throughout the season, but have gotten healthy at the right time. He finished with a team-high 27.5 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field, a career-high tying 8.6 rebounds, and a career-best 9.1 assists. Those Pacers, though, didn't have Oladipo (32 points) or the balance of this Indy squad, which may lack experience but not confidence.
Lue knows that Cleveland's defense will be key to their success.
"As the Land Turns is what I call it", coach Tyronn Lue said, referring to the soap opera by a similar title. "It's going to be challenging, it's going to be hard, but I think we're set for it".
Tristan Thompson and Cedi Osman are apparently on the outside of the main rotation, with no clear role laid out.
Reserves: G Cory Joseph, G Lance Stephenson, F Glenn Robinson III, F/C Trevor Booker, F/C Domantas Sabonis. James got nearly no help from his teammates today. The difference has been that, come playoff time, James and his team morph into a different sort of team. The 14-time All-Star called Stephenson "a little dirty" after a scuffle in their January 12 game.
How Will Each Team Attack? What makes that feat even more remarkable is the fact he accomplished it in his 15th National Basketball Association season.
Cleveland's 109.5 defensive rating only bested that of the Phoenix Suns and their NBA-worst 21-61 record. Best of all: We still have at least three more games of this.
"It's very important for our guards to run the floor, Bron playing with pace, (George) Hill playing with pace". If the Cavaliers can do this successfully, it should be a quick and easy series.
No team was worse at guarding isolations this season.
The Cavs have cruised to three straight finals after lackluster regular seasons where they only secured the number one seed once.
However, the Cavaliers stormed back and ended the quarter on a 24-10 run.
And on Sunday, it became so ridiculous that the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar couldn't help but laugh.
Pacers big man Myles Turner struggled so badly down the stretch he asked McMillan to play him in the regular-season finale.
Herein lies the problem for Indiana. Even if it doesn't look like it is.
Although the Cavs aren't the slam-dunk favorite as they've been in the past to win the East, Love is as confident as ever. Cleveland is tied for third in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage (39.6) since the trade deadline. During one moment in particular, the Pacers guard crouched so laughingly low on defense - nearly mockingly - that James displayed a smirk in a clip that was made for the basketball Twittersphere. James and Love will need old friend Jeff Green to play with some consistency and much will ride on playoff newbies Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance. The 7.2-point difference in their point differentials is the largest of this year's first-round matchups, and only one team since 2000 has lost a best-of-seven series with an edge of plus-7 or better over its opponent: the 2007 Dallas Mavericks, who lost to the eighth-seeded "We Believe" Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers were abysmal shooting the ball and their inability to get anything going from someone other than James for the most part did them in. Since 2012, James has not lost a single game in the first round. James' first-round, Game 1 winning streak was snapped at 21.
The Pacers took the fight to the Cavs.
Greg Swartz covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for Bleacher Report.
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