45 wins for the Cavaliers. It wasn't pretty, but the Cavs added one tonight. In all likelihood, they clinched a spot in the playoffs. The crowd in Quicken Loans Arena, and the effort of the players on the court, made it feel like they were already underway. In the end, Matthew Dellavedova's second half mini-explosion and LeBron James' will to struggle through a personal illness was enough to beat a Pacers team that was intent on spoiling the night.
Cavs 95, Pacers 92.
The Cavs came out with energy in the first quarter, and for a while it seemed like they might run away with this one. The Pacers don't really like it when that happens, though, and responded. A 16-2 run in the third quarter allowed Indiana to get in the game, and stay there. With just over two minutes left, former Cavalier C.J. Miles came off a screen and nailed a three. The Pacers were up by one. James brought the Cavs home with a tough jumper after a screen from Tristan Thompson, who inexplicably was playing over Timofey Mozgov with Roy Hibbert in the game. Maybe Tristan was in for the purpose of setting the screen. Either way, the Cavs got just enough late offense to get over the hump.
Kyrie Irving had what might have been his worst game of the season. He was 4-16 with four fouls and let the officials take him out of the game. He was unsure of himself and passed up a couple open looks late. I think he can grow from this. It was a high-intensity game, and Mike Miller bear-hugged him late in the game when it appeared the Cavs had control of the game. Irving was frustrated, but I don't think it's a long-term issue. James, too, was both yelling at and encouraging Kyrie to take a shot he passed up late in the game. LeBron has confidence in Irving, and that should pay off.
While Irving struggled, Matthew Dellavedova filled into the void. He hit a few big three pointers in the third quarter when they desperately needed an offensive burst. It may have been his best game of the season,a nd the Cavaliers needed it. Mozgov was good, not great. He finished with 12 points on 10 shots. Hibbert had 20 points on 13 shots, and a lot of that came on Timo who played 34 minutes. That being said, he probably had a better shot on Hibbert than Tristan did. All's well that ends well.
The win keeps the Cavs in control in the race for the second seed. The Pacers are still fighting just to get there. There was a report Paul George may be back sometime very soon. Guessing the Cavs don't want to see them any earlier than they need to.