The Cleveland Cavaliers have a new lease on life. After escaping with a win in Game 4, the team has regained their home court advantage and has a chance to finish strong in this remaining best of three. The team has had the worst offense out of any playoff team to this point in the postseason, and the fifth ranked defense.
While few expected this defensive turnaround, returning home gives the Cavs a prime opportunity to turn their offense around and get back on track in this series.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2) vs Indiana Pacers (2-2)
When? 7 pm
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? TNT
Cavaliers status updates: George Hill (Back spasms - Questionable)
Pacers status updates: None
We are four games into this series and still have very little idea of what this team is. Outside of a few passive stretches, LeBron James has been the only constant and saving grace for this team.
After him, there truly hasn’t been a second reliable option for the team in this series. J.R. Smith has muscled his way back into the rotation by stepping up his effort on the defensive end, but his offense has still been shaky. Kevin Love is making an impact on the boards, but was pressing offensively in Game 4 and seemed limited by his torn ligament in his finger.
To make matters worse, the lack of availability for George Hill has robbed the team of one of it’s most stable presences on the team. Jose Calderon has struggled, Rodney Hood can’t find his footing, and Jordan Clarkson has largely been a mess outside of an explosive Game 4 stretch.
Growing pains were to be expected in this series, given the constant turnover and injury issues this team has faced. But if they want to salvage this postseason, this is where they will need to turn the corner.
We know that LeBron James is going to come out swinging with an opportunity to take control of this series. The question is, will more than a couple role players step up and join him. Typically your role players play better when they are on their home floor. So far in this series, there have been one or two players that step up in games, but never enough to give the team a comfortable win. The Cavs haven’t been a complete disaster this postseason, but their fight for consistency has been their greatest battle.
After Indy won wire to wire in Game 1, the Cavs found a way to win Game 2 by only winning a single quarter. In Game 3 they outscored the Pacers in two quarters, while in Game 4 they won three of four quarters.
There’s no guarantee that this trend will continue, and the Cavs don’t need to win every single quarter to have a convincing win. But it does point towards the team finding some form of consistency and could be a positive indicator heading into Game 5.
The tools are there for the Cavaliers, but the consistency and chemistry has been lacking. Getting Hill back would be a major boost for this team. But even if he isn’t available, the team still has what it takes to come away with a convincing win. With so much on the line, it’s now or never.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
OFFENSE! I don’t believe the Cavs offense or their defense is sustainable over a larger sample size. I think the floodgates open and Game 5 devolves into a track meet. If the Cavs get rolling and bait the Pacers into a shootout, it’ll suit them better than the defensive grind that has become the signature of this series. Cavs win 118-109.