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21 April 2017, 07:19 | Andy Ferguson
It's only the second time in the Pacers' NBA history they have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series.
Cleveland is still leaving these games uncomfortably close, but they are up 2-0 in the series and there are no such things as style points. Paul George is one of the better sparring partners LeBron James has ever had in the Eastern Conference, Lance Stephenson is an excellent maniacal supervillain, if not a particularly effective one, and the first two games have been close.
In the eyes of his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates, power forward Kevin Love has put on an inspiring performance during the team's 117-111 Game 2 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday during the opening round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland were outscored 13-7 over the final five minutes of the second quarter on Monday, opened up a 19-point lead during the third but IN regrouped and got back to within four points with 19 seconds to play. The Cavs were settling for 3s and weren't penetrating with the same vigor we've come to expect from guys like Kyrie Irving and James.
That's the next step in the Cavs' process, finding a way to play a complete game. "I thought we started to get frantic out there", said Pacers head coach Nate McMillen. We're right there (near) what we know we can become and we'll figure it out.
Cavaliers hold on to beat Pacers in Game 2
The Pacers regrouped, ripped off 13 straight points and were down 113-109 after George hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left. The Cavaliers had led 32-29 after an attritional first quarter but began to pull away in the second with James to the fore.
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The Pacers led 74-49 after the first half, setting a franchise record for points in a half in the postseason. When we turn the basketball over, we can't get back and it hurts us. Sure, he played out of his mind (25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks) but that doesn't mean Coach Lue shouldn't let him sit.
He still averaged 19.0 points and 11 rebounds in 31.4 minutes during the regular season. He shot 10 of 20 from the field and was complemented by Jeff Teague's 23 points and 4 assists.
In the third quarter, Cleveland took advantage of a mismatch and pounded the ball inside to Love, who scored 10 straight and drew a charging foul on Lance Stephenson in a span of two minutes as the Cavs opened an 89-70 lead. "It's our offense. I think we get exhausted at times". But in the second half, specifically the fourth quarter, the Cavs went shooter-heavy around LeBron, quadrupling down on 3-point-shooting and sliding Frye down to the five. "And that was big". With four seconds left on the clock, Miles made a decision to shoot the ball instead of passing it back to George, but the shot did not go in, resulting for the Pacers to lose by one point. "We know we can count on Shump to be ready, and know he can give us a lift". They did a good job of recognizing that matchup, which they do. Conversely, fans and media members are still looking for them to flip the switch and, personally, I don't think they're going to do that until they lose their first postseason game. They came all the way back to take the lead at 100-98 before eventually winning 119-114 in front of a stunned Indianapolis crowd. However, the Cavs aren't willing to go that far just yet and will likely wait until game time before clearing him. The Pacers have limited resources to drastically improve the team this offseason and limited time to do so, with George's free agency rapidly approaching. IN is 0-9 when dropping the first two games in a series.
Paul George did everything he could to get IN back IN the series.
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