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21 April 2017, 02:46 | Andy Ferguson
In the realm of the National Basketball Association playoffs, it moved the needle for the Cavaliers that veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith has pronounced himself good to go for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first-round series against IN on April 20.
The NBA champions just about held their nerve Monday, eventually winning 117-111 thanks to a 37-point haul from Kyrie Irving as well as 27 points from Kevin Love and 25 from LeBron James.
Shumpert limited IN star Paul George to just four points IN the third quarter Monday when the Cavs built a 19-point lead. The former UCLA star started in five out of six Finals games and sat out of Cleveland's 120-90 blowout victory in Game 3 due to a concussion.
But a Paul George three-pointer saw the Pacers close to within four points with 18.1 seconds remaining to set up a nervous finale as Cleveland's recent inability to close out wins reared its head once more. I think he did a good job of that (in Game 2). Stephenson and coach Nate McMillan say there were no hurt feelings. "We lost our poise and wasn't calm during that third quarter".
But Smith, who missed 36 games while recovering, said his complete devotion and attention would have been with his loved ones even if he was healthy.
And while he's determined to play and committed to the Cavs, Smith's mind is never far from his daughter. "And that was big". In the first two games, the Pacers have allowed Cleveland 113 points per game.
Now, they're heading home in a hole they still believe they can climb from.
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I know that in the National Basketball Association world, the narratives change with the wind. "We're going to go out there, keep trying to give them hell, keep competing and we'll get ourselves a win".
Mark Montieth picked up on an indication that C.J. may slide into the starting lineup as he watched the team at the end of practice on Wednesday. "It's our turnovers", Lue said. "We needed it. We needed that energy from him".
In February, George was rumored to be on the trading block and there have been constant questions since then about whether George would take a max deal to stay with the Pacers after next season or return to Los Angeles where he can try to help resurrect the Lakers' franchise. On Monday, he scored 13 points in 26 minutes, but he picked up four personal fouls. C Al Jefferson was active, but didn't play.
"We've been through it as a team". IN is 0-9 when dropping the first two games in a series. A moment of silence was observed for Robert Godwin Sr., the 73-year-old tragically gunned down by the Facebook assailant.
"Having those guys is a great luxury because every night, two of the three should play well", Lue said after practice on April 19 at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence.
Point spread: The Cavaliers opened as 3.5-point favorites; the total is at 211.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.
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Paul George insists comments intended to motivate Pacers
He's upset that the Pacers have to fight their way back from a 2-0 deficit against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. A moment of silence was observed for Robert Godwin Sr., the 73-year-old tragically gunned down by the Facebook assailant.