Pacers Talk LeBron, Trying To Upset Cavaliers
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INDIANAPOLIS – Easily the most media attention of the season was on hand Thursday when the Indiana Pacers took the floor for their first playoff practice.
Preparation for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been going on for a couple of weeks now for the Pacers’ scouting staff.
But the coaching staff and players can now fully entrench themselves in trying to do something that no team has ever been able to do---beat a LeBron James-led team in the first round of the playoffs.
Teams are 0-12 against LeBron in Round One, having been swept in each of the last 5 seasons.
Can the Pacers “shock the world”---a phrase they dropped several times after Thursday’s practice?
Here are few nuggets from Pacers’ practice on Thursday:
- Lance and LeBron: The Pacers, and Lance, did not poke any bear on Thursday afternoon. Stephenson was peppered with questions about LeBron. But Lance offered plenty of respect for LeBron, saying that The King doesn’t say a word on the court. The Pacers guard said this when talking about his opponents: “I don’t have friends on the court anyway. Everybody I play against is like my enemy.” This will undoubtedly be a matchup to watch, given their history, and LeBron’s comments following the team’s January meeting.
- Myles: “I’m going to play my ass off”: No one needs to remind Turner of the major struggles he’s had to close out the regular season. The mental component to Turner snapping out of this funk is real. Turner can be such a key in this series because of Cleveland wanting to go small with their lineups. Turner knows the Pacers have to count on him in the next 2 weeks: “They need for me to come out and be the aggressive Myles Turner,” the third-year center on Thursday.
- Who will guard LeBron?: Bojan Bogdanovic will get the first crack at LeBron. When the reserves enter the game, look for Lance Stephenson to take over that assignment. Thaddeus Young is another option, according to Nate McMillan. No matter who the Pacers throw at LeBron on the ball, rim protection is a must from Myles Turner.
- Pacers excited for national spotlight: Several Pacers spoke on Thursday about the eagerness to be in the national spotlight during the postseason. That’s what happens when you face LeBron. The Pacers will be on national television every game of the series. That’s a far cry from the regular season. When the 2017-18 schedule came out in August, the Pacers had 1 nationally televised game. The Cavs had 27.
- Season series win for the Pacers means nothing: Victor Oladipo cut off the question before it could even be asked. The 3-1 season series win for the Pacers over the Cavs means nothing, according to their All-Star. He’s right, when you consider how different the Cavs look, with 4 new regulars playing in their rotation. The Pacers and Cavs did not play in the final 3 months of the season. Even though the personnel has changed a lot in Cleveland, Nate McMillan says the style of play is much more like old LeBron teams---spread the floor, get out and run, shoot a ton of 3s.