The Cavaliers are coming off of a dizzying 98-95 Game 5 win over the Indiana Pacers at home on a LeBron James buzzer beater. With a 3-2 series lead in the opening round, the Wine and Gold are invading Bankers Life Fieldhouse to try and put this series to bed.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN
Online: Fox Sports Go, Watch ESPN
Cavs injuries: George Hill (QUESTIONABLE – back)
Pacers injuries: None to report
Three keys to the game:
- Just call him the king of the closeout. For his career, LeBron James has a 32-9 record in closeout games, and the Cavs are 10-0 in closeout games since he returned in 2014. Yeah the Cavs have struggled in this series, but based on those numbers they are the favorite.
- During the second half of Game 5, the Cavs made a pretty significant defensive adjustment. After Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young and Trevor Booker were bullying the Cavs guards on switching mismatches, the Cavs made a concerted effort to keep bigs with bigs rather than switching everything. It was an adjustment that helped the Cavs hold Indiana to just five made field goals during the third quarter as they made a comeback, and it will be interesting to see what adjustment, if any, Indiana makes on this.
- Can J.R. Smith lock down Victor Oladipo for one more game? After Oladipo dropped 32 points in Game 1, he’s averaging 17.3 points per game in Games 2 through 5, and his numbers have dropped with each outing. On Wednesday he put up just 12 points, and keeping him at bay on the Pacers’ home floor will be a big step in the right direction of snuffing them out early.
Kevin Love still has not found any sort of offensive rhythm against Young. It may be too little, too late in this series for Love, who is averaging just 11.8 points. If (and that’s a big if) Love can get going on Friday, it will give the Cavs a weapon they have been without this entire series. If not, the Cavs will need another role player to pick up the slack.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
Anyone else feel like we’ve been in the middle of this series for a month? Despite all the struggles against Indiana, James’ record in closeout games seems to signal that the end is near. Cavs 100, Pacers 94