The Pacers are among the hottest teams in the NBA, and heading into their matchup with the Cavs, it’s fair to say that nobody would’ve expected Cleveland to be particularly competitive.
Well, this is the NBA, and despite earlier “Could Duke beat the Cavs” discussions in the year, the Cavs are an NBA team, and they showed up in major fashion. Larry Nance’s last-second tip-in went in and the team earned a 92-91 victory.
Nance hit the game-winner, but it would’ve been an easy choice to start with him anyway. After a series of games coming off the bench despite Tristan Thompson’s injury, he finally got the start and put together a masterful game for the Cavs.
Nance dropped 15 points, 16 rebounds and six assists to pair with three steals in a box score-stuffing evening. The local product has been the hub for the offense as of late. He’s now had four straight games with at least six assists, which is highly unusual for a big man. We knew he could pass at a high level, but the team is making the most of his ability to generate good looks in an offense that doesn’t do that often.
The Cavaliers didn’t have a particularly strong offensive game as a team, but the Pacers couldn’t have been much uglier. They shot a ghastly 4-22 from three, and Victor Oladipo only managed to score 12 points in the loss. Some of this is certainly just bad luck, but the Cavaliers did a decent job protecting the rim and forcing tough shots from the Pacers.
Matthew Dellavedova continued his strong play, dropping another 10 points and four assists off the bench in what has been a stunning resurgence with the Cavaliers.
Jaron Blossomgame also showed out in his limited minutes. He was helpful in transition defense, deploying his significant athleticism to blow up several Pacer possessions. His jumper just isn’t there, and he’s probably not a good NBA player without one, but he’s not without tools.
Overall, the win is emblematic of the identity of this Cavaliers team. They have rarely quit in any of their games this season, even the blowout losses, and that kind of energy allows them to hang with teams when they aren’t at their best. Hang around long enough, and you might just steal a win.
The Cavaliers hit the road for a back-to-back against the Raptors on Wednesday night as they continue their road trip.