It was all just another day at the office for LeBron James, who ended the game with 46 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. It’s his 20th career playoff game with 40 or more points.
The Cavs unveiled a new starting lineup for Game 2 that is something we have seen often over the last four seasons: James and four shooters. Lue sent Jeff Green and Rodney Hood to the bench in favor of JR Smith and Kyle Korver and in the first quarter, the lineup did everything that Lue likely hoped for when he decided on it.
The shooters spread the floor, which allowed James to attack from basically anywhere that he wanted. In the first five minutes of the game, James led the Cavs to a 16-1 lead over Indiana by scoring all of the Cavs’ points. Per ESPN Stats and Information, it’s the most points a player has put up in the first six minutes of a playoff game in the last 20 seasons.
It also certainly didn’t hurt the Cavs that Victor Oladipo picked up his second foul of the game with 10:58 to go in the quarter and was relegated to the bench.
The Cavs lead got up to as many as 18 in the first frame, and at the end of it they led 33-18 as James had 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, six rebounds and three assists.
In the second quarter, the Pacers put up a fight to narrow the Cavs’ lead to just four points with 5:34 remaining on Lance Stephenson layup. Kevin Love would get that lead back up to nine, however, after he made a baseline jumper and followed that up the next possession by drawing a foul on Oladipo on a baseline three-point attempt, sinking all three free throws.
Once again, Oladipo was forced to head to the bench, which allowed the Cavs to build up some offensive momentum. Highlights included three dunks from James as well as two three-pointers from Kyle Korver to give the Cavs a 12-point lead at halftime, 58-46. James ended the half with 29 points, setting the Cavs’ franchise playoff record for points in a half.
The Cavs extended their lead in the third to 16 as George Hill hit a three-pointer at the 8:35 mark. But the Pacers stormed back, going on a 13-2 run, to get within five points, 70-65, with 3:43 remaining. During that stretch, Oladipo hit two free throws and a trio of acrobatic layups to lead the way with eight points. The teams would essentially trade baskets at that point until a James jumper with 2:02 to go gave the Cavs the 74-67 lead that they would head into the fourth quarter with.
As James re-entered the game with 8:50 remaining, he outscored the Pacers 5-2 over the next two minutes to give Cleveland a 10-point lead and forcing Indiana to call a timeout. The Pacers regrouped and got to within as many as three as Darren Collison hit a 3-pointer on the right wing with 51.2 seconds remaining in the game.
Oladipo had a chance to tie the game, but missed a wide open three-ball, which forced the Pacers to foul James on the rebound. He sunk both free throws, and the forced fouling would continue from there.
Along with James performance, Love had 15 and Korver had 12. Oladipo led Indiana with 22 points and six assists.
Up next: Game 3 of Cavs-Pacers is on Friday in Indiana. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.