The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a couple of days to sit with that Game 1, 98-80 loss to the Indiana Pacers in which they played some of their worst offense of the season. On Wednesday night, they’ll look to even their opening round playoff series.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, TNT
Online: Watch TNT
Cavs injuries: None to report
Pacers injuries: None to report
Three keys to the game
- Well, the offense can’t get much worse for the Cavaliers (can it??). I’m not going to rehash all of the stats from Game 1 here, but the biggest detriments to the Cavs were their offensive aggressiveness and turnovers. Sixteen turnovers for 20 points made things unnecessarily hard for the Cavs in transition defense, something they have struggled with all year. Couple that with poor shot selection and shots not falling, and it’s no wonder Game 1 was an offensive disaster. The biggest thing for the Cavaliers in Game 2 is taking care of the basketball to give themselves more shot opportunities.
- In Game 1, Kevin Love took just eight shots and found himself out near the three-point line a lot when he had either Thaddeus Young or Trevor Booker on him. Throughout the season, Love has been great at taking advantage of mismatches at the center position by drawing bigger defenders out onto the wings. But in those situations, Love will need to work his way onto the block to overpower smaller defenders in the paint, something that Love and Tyronn Lue both said they discussed over the last two days.
- This team goes as LeBron James goes. In Game 1, it was pretty clear that he was trying to get some of the new guys going in their first playoff game, which for most of the first quarter meant he was deferring and didn’t take a shot until less than two minutes remained in the frame. Basically, James needs to get them going by setting the tone with his own play in Game 2. Much like with Love, Lue said on Monday this was something he and James talked about and they seem to be on the same page.
If the Pacers stick with the same strategy and just have Myles Turner sag off of Jeff Green, he is going to have to convert on some outside shots at some point. If Green can’t hit shots, the Cavs’ entire strategy of starting small to spread the floor is essentially irrelevant, and they might as well go bigger with Larry Nance Jr. to combat Turner inside.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavs can’t afford to go to Indiana down 2-0 in this series. If it’s necessary, LeBron James will carry Cleveland over the finish line in this one. Cavs 116, Pacers 110.