The Cavaliers suffered an embarrassing 121-87 Game 6 loss on Friday night, and now their season hangs in the balance with Game 7 scheduled for Sunday afternoon against the Indiana Pacers in their opening round playoff series.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
Online: Watch ESPN
Cavs injuries: George Hill (QUESTIONABLE – back)
Pacers injuries: None to report
Three keys to the game:
- Having a third quarter where there is some semblance of effort is going to be arguably the most important thing on Sunday. In Game 6, the Cavs were outscored in the third quarter, 35-20. They have struggled after halftime all season and at this point, there might not be a solution. Maybe faced with Sunday potentially being their last game of the year will be enough of an incentive to come out with some fire.
- During Game 6 the Pacers out-hustled the Cavs for most of the game. They outrebounded Cleveland, 51-46, and outscored them on second-chance points, 15-7. They beat them in fast break points, 35-12. They had nine steals, compared to four for the Cavs. They forced 15 turnovers, good for 29 points while the Cavs only forced seven. They bullied the Cavs in the paint, outscoring them 58-32. At this point, the Pacers have nothing to lose and they are playing like it. The Cavs can’t afford to have any lapses if they hope to win those categories in Game 7.
- As LeBron James has often said, and as he said again after Game 6, “Game 7 ... it’s the greatest two words in sports.” The Cavs haven’t been in a Game 7 since the 2016 Finals, and the cast of characters is different this time around. No one can be sure how they’ll react in this winner-take-all game, and they will either collapse under the pressure of the moment and expectations of an entire city, or they will thrive with everything on the line.
LeBron James vs. everyone, including the rest of the Wine and Gold. If the Cavs are going to win this game, and this series, they are likely going to need an otherworldly performance from their star. They will go as he goes, and him carrying the Cavs across the finish line may be the only way for Cleveland to survive and advance.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
LeBron puts up 50, and the Cavs will need every last point. Cavs 98, Pacers 95.