The Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Indiana Pacers as they tried to recover from Friday's loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. It was a game dominated by defense and poor shooting. And when that happens, it usually means the Pacers are going to win. The Cavs dropped their second straight, losing by a final score of 89-74.
As you probably know, the Pacers are one of the absolute best defensive teams in the country. Coming into the game, it was probably unrealistic to expect the Cavs to win this one. But they battled all night long and kept the score relatively close. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Pacers really pulled away and put the game out of reach.
It certainly wasn't a pretty game. The Cavs struggled to hit shots all night long, but that's what you get when you take on the Pacers in their house. Roy Hibbert alters every shot at the rim and getting easy buckets just wasn't going to happen.
Tristan Thompson struggled offensively for the first time this season. After Anderson Varejao gave Hibbert fits in the first quarter, Frank Vogel switched up the defensive assignments and put Hibbert on Thompson instead. Tristan didn't score his first points until late in the second half. But he did play well defensive. He did a pretty great job against David West and continues to look improved on that side of the ball as well.
Paul George is a really awesome basketball player. He did a little bit of everything -- grabbing boards and hitting threes. Lance Stephenson caught fire in the fourth quarter, drilled a bunch of threes, and allowed the Pacers to finally pull away.
Dion Waiters was very aggressive early in the game after playing just 14 minutes in Friday's game. He shot 6 of 16 in the first half. The rest of the team shot 7 of 26 in the first half. Waiters finished with 17 points on 7 of 21 shooting. Yuck.
Kyrie Irving still hasn't really gotten it going this year. He couldn't find any space to get to the basket and was forced to settle for jumpers all night. He shot 6 of 17 from the field. Bleh.
It's not fun to complain about the officials, but Dion and Kyrie really haven't gotten any calls so far this year. Hibbert is fantastic at contesting shots by jumping straight up and that has something to do with it. But I suspect that the calls will start to even out as the year goes on.
One thing that I noticed was the Cavs' inability to get the three-pointer working. They shot just 3 of 15 from deep, compared to Indiana's 10 of 28. I know that the Pacers are specifically defending the three-point line, but the Cavs probably need to use the three ball more. CJ Miles was 0 for 5 from deep and Jarrett Jack was 0 for 2. Sergey Karasev isn't a part of the rotation yet (and probably won't be for a while), but that's something he can add once he gains Mike Brown's trust.
Anthony Bennett once again struggled. He still hasn't made a field goal during the regular season and it's very clear that he is aware of that fact. He's thinking too much, playing nervous, and missing everything. He continues to be active on the boards and giving effort on defense. I know some people are freaking out and want to declare him a bust, but that's ridiculous. It's been three games and not everybody is Kyrie Irving or LeBron James. I think once Bennett gets some shots to fall, he'll be much more relaxed and work his way into a nice role on this team.
The defense was pretty solid tonight. There are concerns about the offense, but keep in mind that defense was basically all they worked on during preseason and training camp. The offense will get there eventually, I think. It was also the second night of the first back-to-back set of the year against the best defensive team in the league on the road. Let's not panic just yet.
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