There were many reasons why the Indiana Pacers upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1. They came out with more intensity on both ends of the floor and were able to capitalize on a poor shooting night from the Cavs. But for Victor Oladipo, the intensity he brought to the game was partially fueled by a desire to show up Dan Gilbert.
Gilbert was upset that the Cavaliers were unable to acquire Paul George this summer after the Pacers backed out of the agreed upon deal. Instead of completing the three-way deal with the Denver Nuggets, they elected to trade for Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis:
“I would say Indiana could have done better than they did”
After scoring 32 points in the Pacers Game 1 win, Oladipo addressed those comments:
Oladipo says he was aware of Dan Gilbert’s comment last summer that #Pacers could have done better in George trade. “You could say it fueled the fire.”#Cavs pic.twitter.com/RC2moSBjea— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) April 15, 2018
The funny thing about this, as pointed out by Adrian Wojnarowski, is that Gilbert’s comments weren’t necessarily about Oladipo as a player:
Indy largely agreed on Cavs-Nugs 3-way (GHarris/Lyles/Cavs FRP). Gilbert/George planned to get on call before Indy took OKC deal. Gilbert comments seemed to be on Indy bailing on deal, not Oladipo. Ironically, Gilbert wanted VO in 2013, but deferred to front office on A. Bennett. https://t.co/q2lqW0yxkW— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 16, 2018
Whatever Oladipo is doing to motivate himself, it’s clearly working. Whether you were a doubter, or high on him this past summer, there was almost nobody that predicted he’d be THIS good.
He has been the driving force of the Pacers surprising success this season and was the best player on the court in Game 1. While it’s unlikely that continues for the rest of the series, that performance helped open the eyes of those that didn’t pay attention to how good the Pacers have been this season.