Pacers With Chance To Seize Series Control In Game Two
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers are playing with house money on Wednesday night in Cleveland.
With a 1-0 series lead coming on the road, the Pacers are in a more than ideal position against LeBron James and the Cavs.
Road teams that win the first game in a 4 vs. 5 matchup have won 10 of the last 11 playoff series when the home team goes down 0-1.
The Pacers obviously hope to continue that trend, although LeBron and the Cavs are not going to be easy to extinguish.
Let’s take a look back on the Pacers’ 98-80 victory over the Cavs and what could be changing in Wednesday’s Game Two.
What The Pacers Must Continue
- Supporting cast contributing early: The collective sigh of relief that occurred when Myles Turner hit his opening possession jumper on Sunday could be felt all across Pacers Nation. Turner needed to see one badly go through the hoop. That led to Turner snapping out of a major funk by going 6-of-9 from the floor and finishing with 16 points and 8 rebounds. While Cleveland didn’t have a single starter score in double figures (outside of LeBron), the Pacers got a great afternoon from Turner and Bojan Bogdanovic providing some strong drives early on. With the defensive attention towards Oladipo only going to grow, these guys must keep making plays.
- Start and Finish: Cleveland was outscored by 29 combined points in the first and fourth quarters in Game 1. The Cavs scored a season-low 14 points in the opening quarter and then 15 in the final period. That’s the start and close coaches dream of on the defensive end of the floor. The Pacers came out and punched Cleveland square in the face. Then, every time the Cavs tried to cut it to a couple of possessions, the Pacers answered in a variety of ways. A quick start on Wednesday would bring the boo birds out of the home crowd pretty quick.
- Make Cleveland Defend: Coming into the playoffs, the Cavaliers were one of the poorest defensive teams we’ve seen in the postseason in quite some time. Indiana didn’t shoot it that great in Sunday’s win (45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three). But with Cleveland desperate for some offensive efficiency in Game Two, the Pacers need to make sure the Cavs are working hard on the defensive end of the floor, for the entire shot clock.
- LeBron in the post: Following the first opening game loss of his playoff career, LeBron mentioned that he would like a few more touches in the post. The Pacers did a nice job early on of limiting the favorable scoring chances for LeBron, as he didn’t attempt his first shot until the final two minutes of the first quarter. If/when the Cavs do throw it to LeBron in the post, the Pacers must decide how they handle double teaming him and still recovering enough to get out on shooters. Indiana should expect an attacking, probably more scoring-minded, LeBron from Wednesday’s opening tip, and on.
- New looks at Oladipo: Cleveland lacks an obvious on-ball defender to throw at Victor Oladipo. They could not handle Oladiop’s suddenness when putting the ball on the floor. And when they sagged off, preparing for the Oladipo blow-by, he connected on 6 three pointers. The Cavs probably can’t afford to throw LeBron at Oladipo, so the combination of Rodney Hood, J.R. Smith and George Hill/Jordan Clarkson is going to be needed. Oladipo should expect a much more aggressive hedge/double team coming at him when pick and rolls are called.
- No George Hill? Ty Lue said on Monday the Cavs are looking at possible lineup changes for Wednesday. He might have to make one if George Hill (back) can’t give it a go. Inserting a guy like J.R. Smith into the starting lineup would make sense on both ends of the floor for Cleveland. They could use another player in the starting lineup who has made big shots before in a playoff atmosphere, with the pressure amped up down 0-1 at home.