The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 119-114 on April 20 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse after overcoming a 26 point deficit, giving them a 3-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs.
With superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love benched during the fourth quarter after combining to score 26 points, LeBron James was left to take over the game singlehandedly. He finished the game with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists.
The Pacers were coasting through the first two quarters with a 74-79 lead, but their downfall was relying on player Paul George, who scored 36 points but lacked critical support from his teammates. During the third quarter, Pacer offensive fell to Cleveland, who evened out the score 91-84. The Pacers were finally defeated when Channing Frye scored a three-pointer that pulled Cleveland ahead 114-107.
Junior Sarah Popper says, “I was so excited when the Cavs exploded during the second half. It was completely unexpected for the Cavs to be losing, and even more unexpected for them to come back like that. It was really just a great game.”
The Cavaliers proved to fans that their discouraging end to the regular season was not a representation of the playoffs, and that a miraculous comeback similar to last year is certainly possible. At the same time, critics point out the fact that the whole game should have been an easy win for Cleveland, and that no deficit should have even occurred.
Cleveland offense has been notably disjointed throughout the regular season to now, scoring uncharacteristically low with only 11 assists on 37 field goals. Love put on a terrible performance, missing 11 of 13 shots and scoring only five points.
In contrast, the game was a history maker for James as he has now been involved in five consecutive first-round sweeps and 21 straight first-round wins.
Although James continues to make history, he is in serious danger of wearing down. His 32.4 percent usage is continuously on the rise, logging a record high 37.8 minutes per game. Being well into his 30s, James should be getting a lot more rest, but instead is forced to pull back the team from down-to-the-wire games, which will certainly come back to bite the Cavaliers in the near future.
Team superstars Irving and James seem to have carried the team, as their only other player scoring double figures was Deron Williams with 14 points.
Williams may not have been the focus of the game, but throughout the season, he has proved that he is key to the team’s future wins, especially with his playmaking skills. His shot fake during the game fooled George into thinking he would pass the ball to James, clearing the path for an easy layup.
The Pacers loss led to president Larry Bird stepping down from his position, leaving Indiana’s future a mystery.
Junior AJ Rufin says, “I don’t know what this means for both the Pacers and Cavs. While the Pacers are done for the year, who knows how they are going to be transformed next season by whoever takes charge next. The Cavs also are at a crossroads between returning to their sluggish performance or bringing the energy they brought to the second half of this game to the rest of the season.”
So what do you think is the next move for Cleveland – will the Cavaliers suffering continue, or will they go on to make the NBA Finals?