Well, you’re welcome everybody. I attended Game 3, and as predicted, LeBron James had one of the best games of his entire professional career. That’s all me (Not Dave Zavac, who was also there, and actually did work by getting an exclusive interview with Cavaliers GM David Griffin).
Anyway, the Cavaliers carry a 3-0 series lead into Sunday’s Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers, and these games can go one of two ways. Either the opponent, having given their best shot in Game 3, totally gives up and gets rolled, or they try to salvage their pride and avoid a sweep by competing like hell. Indy’s fought hard in this series, and it’s fair to expect the latter.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers (Cleveland leads series 3-0)
When: Sunday, 1 PM ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Where to watch: ABC
What to Watch for:
- The Pacers were having too much fun going nuts in the first half to need to muck it up against the Cavaliers in Game 3. I warned against it in my last preview, and I still think it’s a factor here. If the Cavaliers jump out to an early lead, things could get very physical in Indy. It’s a natural protective instinct of any underdog, and I’d be stunned if there aren’t a few hard fouls on the way out the door.
- The Cavaliers have been hilariously bad defensively in first halves, and insanely good defensively in second halves, per our friend Justin Rowan.
Cavs first half DRTG in playoffs is 130.1 (holy crap lmao) easily worst in playoffs— Justin Rowan (@Cavsanada) April 21, 2017
Second half DRTG is 98.9, which is fourth best.
- What does this mean? Well, it means it’d be nice if the Cavaliers were a little more active on that end of the ball early to help put the Pacers away and to finally have a win with a little comfort in these playoffs.
- Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were obviously benched down the stretch of Game 3, and it’s fair to expect them to come out with guns blazing in Game 4. Both were great sports about it, but they’re also intensely proud dudes - they’ll want to prove why they shouldn’t ever be benched again.
- Paul George will likely go off again, because water is wet and the Cavaliers don’t really have anything for him other than a fully engaged LeBron James, and I don’t expect to see that version of LeBron defensively until the Finals.
- The Cavaliers really, really need to figure out their defensive rebounding. The Pacers have been able to create plenty of second chances in this series, and traditionally, that’s been the Cavaliers MO. They need to find that rebounding gear, and find it well before it has a chance to bite them.
- The bench was so good for the Cavaliers, with Kyle Korver and Channing Frye breaking out offensively and Deron Williams doing a nice job playmaking alongside LeBron. Having the starters and bench both going in the same game should ice this one away.
- The Cavaliers are just better than the Pacers, and even though they’ve had some fortuitous bounces, their talent disparity gives Cleveland an enormous margin of error that the Pacers just don’t have. I expect them to finish this series off with a sweep and advance to the second round.