While the final score was close in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game one win over the Indiana Pacers, there was plenty of reasons for encouragement. The Cavs survived in a game where the offense struggled late and opened the series with an important win. Now the team will look to build upon that win and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0) vs. Indiana Pacers (0-1)
When? 7 PM
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? TNT
Throughout the Cavs game one win over the Pacers, it was remarkable how much more difficult the team made things for themselves. From the thirteen missed free throws, to missed layups from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving down the stretch, to Irving and Kevin Love combining for 3-15 shooting from deep.
Typically on night’s like that, the Cavs typically find a way to lose the game. But the team managed to come up with some needed defensive stops, and held the Pacers to 49 second-half points after allowing 59 in the first.
The issues at the line likely won’t be as significant heading into game two, but I expect the Cavs to change their approach offensively to get more quality three-point looks. The Pacers chose to stick with their man on the perimeter for most of the game, daring James and Irving to beat them by attacking the rim. While this strategy broke down at times, the starters failed to convert on their open looks. As a result, the Cavs starting lineup combined to go 6-21 from deep.
While Irving and Love struggled to knock down their open shots, the Pacers did a great job containing Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith. They stuck with the two off-ball and held Smith to 1-3 shooting from deep, and zero attempts from Korver. When either one of the Cavs marksmen get it going, the team becomes nearly impossible to defend. So I anticipate Tyronn Lue making some adjustments to get them some quality looks.
Defensively the Cavs mostly had the right idea in the second half. With Smith sticking to Paul George, it allows James to play as a free safety and disrupt the Pacers offense. However, when the team doesn’t have Tristan Thompson and Love together on the floor they must do a better job on the defensive glass. The Pacers had a 50-43 advantage on the boards in game one, including 12 offensive boards. Love and James combining for 10 rebounds simply isn’t going to cut it, especially if they are going to play small-ball minutes together.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
The Cavs should be confident heading into game two. They found flaws in the Pacers pick and roll defense as the game progressed and were able to generate quality shots. Thompson won the battle against Miles Turner and they won despite poor shooting from three and at the line. I don’t anticipate Lance Stephenson having another huge night and this Cavs team historically gets better as a series progresses. As the team gets more familiar with an opponent and get more film on them, they simply have too many intelligent players to not capitalize. Cavs win game two 110-94.