Well, that did not last very long. The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-102 on Sunday to complete a series sweep. The 2017 NBA playoff bracket suffered its first casualty. Indiana fought valiantly but ultimately died quickly. Cleveland sweeps the Pacers in four games and now moves on to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers Sweep Indiana Pacers
The final series score can be deceiving
The term sweep is used because in a 4-0 series, one team usually utterly dominates the other. This series was different. The Pacers battled the Cavaliers in each contest, making comebacks each game – or in the case of Game Three, jumping out to a large lead. Game Four was in the mold of games one and three, with the Cavaliers taking the lead late and holding it. The total margin of victory for the Cavaliers in the series was 16 points, which is tied for the lowest in history in a four-game sweep.
LeBron – 33p/10r
Kyrie – 28p pic.twitter.com/JOlreRdHOx
Game Four Recap
Led by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers held off a hard-charging Pacer team not quite ready to clean out their lockers. James once again showed why his nickname is King James, coming up with big plays to scuttle any resistance from the opposition. Irving has solidified his reputation as a “bucket-getter” in big games. James led all scorers with 33 points and 10 rebounds, and Irving had 28 points. Veteran and former All-Star point guard Deron Williams came off the bench and scored 14 points on almost perfect shooting.
James, in what is quickly becoming his trademark in series-closing games, had yet another chase down block.
Another chase down block for LeBron. pic.twitter.com/yK1H8kou5l
The Pacers were led by Lance Stephenson, who scored a team-high 22 points. Myles Turner also contributed in the loss, scoring 20 points and securing nine rebounds. Point guard Jeff Teague scored 15 points and dished 10 assists. Team leader Paul George fell flat, shooting just 5-for-21 from the field and scoring 15 points. George found it tough to get into a rhythm all game, as he was hounded by an army of defenders.
After the game, James said the following: “[The Pacers are a] tough team, we knew that coming into the series. We locked into our scheme. Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan going into every game – [we were] just trying to execute it.”
What’s next for both teams?
For the Indiana Pacers, many questions must be answered. Do the Pacers keep or trade George? Is Nate McMillan really the coach that general manager Larry Bird wants to continue leading this team? This is especially relevant as Bird wants the team to play faster. The Monta Ellis experience is now clearly over. Does that mean a permanent reunion with Stephenson? Teague is now a free agent – what is the plan for the point guard position?
In the playoffs, there are no moral victories. However, the Pacers may take some solace from this fact:
The Cavaliers 4 wins over the Pacers came by a combined 16 points, tied for the smallest margin of victory in 4-game sweep all-time. pic.twitter.com/mBr9mZNj6A
On to the next round for Cleveland
Many questions are left unanswered for the Cavaliers. When will the defense show up for extended periods? How long will the hot shooting streak last? Will J.R. Smith resist the urge to make boneheaded plays? Will the lack of big men eventually hurt the Cavaliers? Can the bench continue its fine form?
The Cavaliers now ensured themselves a week-long break before their next game. This is crucial for Cleveland, one of the oldest teams in the league – recovery time is vital. It is most noteworthy that while teams have had the injury blight cast upon them, the Cavaliers go into the next round with everyone healthy.