It wasn’t pretty, but the Cleveland Cavaliers got a much needed 135-130 win against the Indiana Pacers in double overtime. It was an inconsistent effort from the Cavs, who clearly need to work on their communication on both ends of the floor.
While the Pacers have struggled lately, it is hard to not be encouraged by how the Cavs attacked them in the first half. Cleveland brought consistent effort on the offensive end and made Indiana work for their baskets.
However, towards the end of the first half the Pacers started to get into a bit of a rhythm and hit a few tough shots. The halftime lead of 60-53 was not reflective of how the Cavs played, but it helped Indiana get back into the game.
The momentum the Pacers put together to close the half was carried into the third quarter as the Cavs’ defensive struggles once again reared their ugly head. It wouldn’t have been as big of an issue if the team hit their open shots, but the Cavs struggles combined with defensive lapses allowed the Pacers to tie the game up late in the third.
After the Pacers tied the game, the Cavs showed some resilience that has been missing from the team lately. They dug in defensively and gave themselves a cushion with a 83-77 lead heading into the fourth.
Once the fourth began, the team opened the game up with a quick 8-0 run. However, as was the case all night the Pacers responded with a counter-punch, tying the game up and sending the game to overtime.
The Cavs inability to close the game out in regulation was largely a result of failed execution. Iman Shumpert was inserted into the game as part of the closing lineup. A decision that felt even more baffling as he was indecisive on offense, and lost on defense. Tristan Thompson also blew a shot to win the game out in regulation, by missing both free throws in the final minute.
The first overtime accelerated the process of giving my hairline the LeBron treatment. It started off with some great plays from Irving, finding Thompson for two dunks and hitting a three-pointer of his own. After that the Cavs offense bogged down as indecision once again sunk in. A clutch three pointer from J.R. Smith in the closing seconds of the game were followed by a dumb foul on Paul George, who split the pair to send the game to a second overtime.
In the second overtime we were treated to a continued duel between two of the best small forwards in the league. James and Paul George went shot for shot down the stretch exchanging big plays. Kevin Love also contributed to the heroics as he hit a pair of shots in the post, as well as a dagger three.
How to defend George appeared to become a sore spot for the Cavaliers, as they repeatedly gave up open shots out of the pick and roll. James and Thompson got into a heated exchange late in the second overtime after yet another George bucket.
Regardless of what the Cavs did defensively, George was just special. He finished with 43 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds. It’s nights like tonight that remind you just how special George can be when he’s locked in.
The play of LeBron James was nothing short of spectacular early on. He scored 15 points to go along with his 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the first half. James set the tone on both ends of the floor and threw down several massive dunks. The hope that the Cavs can turn things around once the playoffs arrive are centered around the team following the example of James. James finished with yet another triple double, with 41 points, 11 assists, and 16 rebounds. We know he has another gear, but as the team’s leader, it falls on him to be the catalyst for the team on both ends of the court.
This was undoubtedly the worst offensive game all season for Kyrie Irving. The frustration appeared to get to him as well, as he would try to will himself out of his slump by jacking up difficult shots. On the plus-side, he made some good passes and defensive plays. But this was simply a terrible game from him overall. He finished with 23 points and 7 assists on 5-20 shooting. His efficiency was bailed out by his 11-11 shooting at the free throw line, but his decision making was sub-par throughout the night.
With this being the first game in a stretch of three games in four nights, needing two overtime periods is far from ideal. The team plays next against Orlando on Tuesday, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they decide to rest the big three.