As the first round of the NBA Playoffs continues, individual series’ begin to take shape. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers are locked in a Midwest showdown. Initial results have the Cavaliers on the verge of advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Cleveland Cavaliers Game 3 Comeback Puts Pacers on the Brink
Quick Recap of Series Thus Far
With that said, game three comes to mind. After ending game one with a missed shot at the buzzer, the Pacers showed the basketball world they were no pushovers. Then in game two, the Cavaliers big three scored 89 points in another victory. Kyrie Irving scored 37 points. This game was also close, but the Pacers simply didn’t have enough time to complete a comeback.
Fast forward to game three on Thursday night. A popular proverb for the playoffs is “the series starts when the home team loses.” Consequently, the fans came out in full voice at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the Pacers. The Hoosier state fans came prepared to back their team as they were acutely aware of what losing game three meant. The game started as the home team planned, with the Pacers standing nose to nose with the defending NBA Champs. The game got even better for the Pacers as they build up a 25 point lead. Young big Myles Turner jumped through the rafters to dunk on Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson. The Pacers went into the locker room leading 74-49 at halftime.
A Game Consists of Two Halves
Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said during the half-time interview, “We have to clamp a few things, but we will be okay“. With that battle cry, the Cavaliers consequently came out firing to begin the second half, led by the indomitable LeBron James. The Cavaliers started chipping away at this humungous lead. They embarked on a 13-3 run, however the Pacers then stretched the lead to 20 with back-to-back threes by Jeff Teague and Lance Stephenson.
When the Cavaliers finally tied the game at 98 halfway through the fourth quarter, few impartial observers thought the Pacers had a chance. The writing was on the wall. James led his troops yet again. Keep in mind, Coach Lue took Irving and Love out late in the third quarter and never brought them back. James and the reserves completed the comeback, not fellow all-stars Kevin Love and Irving.
The defensive switch was finally turned on. After allowing an enormous 77 points in the first half, the Cavaliers only allowed 37 for the rest of the game. Many pundits have openly questioned whether or not the Cavaliers had what it took to play better defense. Could they flip the defensive switch, they openly asked. Well for a half at least, against a mediocre team, the Cavaliers showed they were able to lock in defensively.
A Season on the Brink
There are serious questions worth asking; Will the Pacers mount a comeback? Will they be able to muster up some sort of fight to extend this series on past Sunday afternoon? Can they stop James? Will Paul George have enough assistance to help carry this team and extend the series? The Pacers are in survival mode. Will there be a game five?
CHICAGO, USA – MARCH 30: LeBron James (23) Cleveland Cavaliers in action during the NBA match between Chicago Bulls vs Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, United States on March 30, 2017. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)