2018 NBA Playoffs Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers, SWOT Analysis & Prediction
The regular season is finally out of the way and now we can get down to business. The playoffs this time around promises to be a spectacle and we have many interesting matchups to look forward to. We'll look at Indiana going up against Cleveland in this piece in a matchup which ended 3-1 in favor of the Pacers in the regular season.
They met in last year's 1st round too of course and while the Cleveland Cavaliers won in a sweep it was a pretty tightly contested series. Expect something along the same lines despite major changes in the cast of characters on both sides.
Well, it's easy to say they have LeBron James and that's their strength. In a topsy-turvy season in Cleveland, the one constant has been the one-man wrecking ball that's James and he's led them to another strong season on offense. The Cavs finished 5th in scoring and Offensive Rating along with 6th in 3-point shooting percentage, which has been their calling card all season. Only the Houston Rockets and Nets have made more 3s and expect another 3-point barrage from them in this series.
In many ways, they live and die by the 3 now and it's worked well so far. The additions from the trade in Rodney Hood, George Hill, and Jordan Clarkson have further helped the cause. Larry Nance Jr has also provided some much-needed competition for Tristan Thompson. Kevin Love's play has also been a big plus this season and expect him to help Cleveland win the rebounding battle in the series.
The Indiana Pacers aren't particularly great at anything, but they're pretty good at a lot of things. Indiana ranks almost at the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, at 12th and 14th respectively. They've relied on solid contributions throughout the board with Victor Oladipo providing the star power. If I had to pick something they've been great at, it'd probably be forcing turnovers, which they're third at, with Oladipo leading the league at 2.36 steals a game. Indiana has cashed in those turnovers too, ranking 5th in the league in fast-break points.
The Pacers have also been good at defending the 3-point shot, ranking 5th in 3 point % allowed, at a measly 34.9% which is going to be vital against the Cavaliers. Myles Turner's importance in this series should not be understated either, being one of the premier shot blockers in the league. Turner ranks 5th in Blocks per game and he'll have to be the one to prevent James from getting freebies at the rim.