The Indiana Pacers lead the best of a seven game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers mainly due to a great defensive effort in game one. The Cavaliers got an underwhelming performance from its entire team despite a triple-double from LeBron James.
What Cleveland needs is a stronger offensive output from the leagues best player. James has to average around 30 points per game the entire playoffs if Cleveland wants to advance.
The Cavs other players have some work to do as well. Coach Tyrone Lue might be better suited starting Larry Nance Jr., who was more active in game one over Jeff Green (0-7, 0 points). The combination of Kevin Love and Jordan Clarkson have to score at least 30 points between them. Even though Love had a monster rebounding game (17), the two combined for just 15 points in game one.
In a nutshell, Cleveland can’t score 80 points in a playoff game and expect to win. They also can’t stand around and watch James try and win it by himself (even if he should try).
The Pacers should not get too happy with one win when you need three more to take the series. The game one plan was a success on defense, crowding the Cavaliers’ shooters not giving up any space and protecting the rim. They should beware of the Cavaliers’ shooters in game two, however. Cleveland went 8-23 from three-point range in the first outing and not all those shots were contested.
Offensively, the Pacers got a great performance from Victor Oladipo scoring 32 points but they can’t lean on him so heavily going forward. Domontas Sabonis and Darren Collision both scored well under their regular season averages. Indiana will need all of it’s players to either step up or keep up their scoring output and they have to be prepared for a tough Cleveland response.
Prediction: The Cavs should win game two at home and tie the series 1-1. They should score over a hundred points, and Lebron James usually puts up big numbers after a loss.