After Paul George passed up on a game one game winning shot the Pacers and their star needed a bounce back victory to avoid a 2-0 deficit before taking the series back to Indiana. Most of the night the Cavaliers lead by double-digits that amounted to an 18-point lead however, the Pacers would make a late run in the fourth quarter again to close the gap.
The big three of the Cavaliers had a strong showing in game two as Lebron James scored 25 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists. Kyrie Irving lead all scorers with 37 points and Kevin Love chipped in 27 points. That is a combined 89 points between the trio. The offensive outburst carried the Cavaliers to 55-percent shooting from the field (42-percent from three).
While it was a successful night for the Cavaliers main core, J.R. Smith appeared with a slight limp and slowness in his movement during halftime and coming out of the locker room. He was diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Smith would be held out of the second half and sat near the bench with a disgruntled look. His status for game three is questionable but he is optimistic he will play.
“If they let me play, I’ll play,” Smith said, via ESPN. “My leg ain’t broke.”
James believes the Cavaliers are rounding the turn of the switch. “We’re right there of what we know we can become, and we’ll figure it out. So, like I told you, I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. And we make plays down the stretch to win a ball game in the postseason, and that’s all you can ask for. But we’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”
On the Pacers front Nate McMillan questioned some of the defensive decisions made such as placing George on Irving and Lance Stephenson on Love. “They do a great job of recognizing matchups and taking advantage of it. I thought that was huge. Defensively, we just didn’t play that right. The reason for it was just trying to get control of Kyrie by putting [a] bigger defender on him. We had to try to deny entry to anyone who was in the post, but we really did a bad job of allowing Love to catch it. We didn’t work to deny or front that post shot.”
Paul George also was not pleased with the body language of his teammates as some of the frustrations set in. The All-Star Forward logged 32 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists which lead all Pacer players in game two. “He’s got to learn to control himself and be in the moment,” George said. “Lance, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader. His body language has to improve — just for the team. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. A lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness. That emotion comes out of him. He’s got to channel that toward making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.”
The Pacers being led by George were able to keep on par on shoot 51-percent from the field while only turning over 14 times opposed to the Cavaliers 19 times. McMillan will need to readjust the defense scheme in game three and jump out ahead defensively. Indiana will have to avoid playing from behind against the defending champs as they’ve lost the first two games by an average of three points.
Game three is in Indiana on Thursday night. Tip-off at 7:00 PM EST on TNT
Baseline Times Staff Writer