Coming into this series, everyone knew that the Cleveland Cavaliers were the more talented team. In both games of this series thus far, that has been the case.
On Monday night, the Indiana Pacers once again were in another hard-fought contest with the Cavaliers.
Unfortunately, the result turned out to be the same. Indiana fell to Cleveland 117-111, in a game where the Pacers, once again, were forced to play from behind.
However, if there is one thing that the Cavaliers have not done well recently is hold on to their fourth quarter leads.
The Cavaliers were up 18 points heading into the final quarter before the Pacers rallied to make it a competitive game. With that, here are my takeaways from Monday’s loss to the No. 2-seed Cavaliers.
Paul George is not the problem
After Game 1, Pacers forward Paul George made it clear to reserve C.J. Miles that he would always be the one to take the last shot of a close contest.
George made it pretty clear that he was the primary option with his play on Monday.
The all-star finished with 32 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in the loss but still is in desperate need of some assistance. Guard Jeff Teague added 23 points on Monday and was able to attack the Cavaliers, but 20 point games for Teague usually doesn’t happen consistently.
The problem is not on George, but more so on second-year big man Myles Turner. After an 11 point, eight rebound affair on Saturday, Turner was silent on Monday.
Turner finished with just six points and five rebounds on Monday. If the Pacers want to be successful in this series, they can not have the kind of performances that Turner had Monday.
In Game 3 on Thursday, look for Turner to come out and play more aggressively in front of the Indiana fans.
I predict that Turner finishes with a double-double, let’s go with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and helps lead the Pacers to a 105-100 win.
Third quarter was not kind to Indiana
Entering the third quarter, Indiana did not look like a team that was ready to compete. The Cavaliers outscored the Pacers 33-20 in the period, as Kevin Love was unstoppable.
Indiana had their fits with the all-star forward the whole night, but more so in the third quarter, as Love went on a 10-0 run by himself. From there, it looked like Cleveland was bound to finish the game off, but the Pacers would eventually make a late rally.
This loss comes back to the decisive third quarter though, where the Pacers just couldn’t get anything to go, and the Cavaliers exposed them.
Indiana also had major issues in the quarter with guard Kyrie Irving, who also erupted. Irving scored 14 of his game-high 37 points in that quarter and was scoring at will.
The Pacers had no answer of how to stop him.
Forward LeBron James is the greatest player on the planet and is unstoppable, but Irving and Love can be containable. The homework for the Pacers is to watch film on how to get better at covering those two individuals in particular before the test on Thursday.
Can Indiana pass the test? We will see on Thursday.