Game 5: Indiana Pacers 95-98 Cleveland Cavaliers - 5 Talking Points
For the first time since 2008, LeBron James will need six games to advance past the first round of the Playoffs. Can the Indiana Pacers make him sweat and force a first-ever first-round Game 7 for James?
Only time will tell but Game 5 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Pacers was different yet similar in a lot of ways. .
Here's how it was similar - other than the Pacers' 18-point Game 1 victory, all other contests in the series have been decided by five points or lesser. However, in all of the previous contests, one team (3 of the four times, it's been the Cavaliers) has jumped to a huge early lead of 15+ points. That didn't happen on Wednesday night.
The largest lead in Game 5 was 12 points and that too came in the second half of the game. This contest had a lot to discuss so without further ado, let's get to the 5 biggest takeaways:
#5 Struggles continue for Cavaliers' key role players
In Game 5, Kevin Love and JR Smith combined for 11 points on 2-of-19 shooting.
Love might still be bothered by his injured left thumb but if he's playing there should be no excuses. The 6'10" forward/center has been miserable this series, before and after he injured his left thumb in Game 4 of this series.
During his rehab in February and March due to a broken left hand, everybody talked about overlooking the struggles of the new-look Cavaliers because they were missing a superstar in Love. Come Playoff time, the former Minnesota Timberwolves' star has contributed close to nothing to the team's success. He's averaging a Playoff career-low 11.8 points per game while shooting Playoff-career lows of 32.8% from the field and 39.1% from beyond the arc.
JR Smith, the other notable role player, hasn't shown up offensively. After a lackluster Game 1 on defense, he has picked up his defensive intensity but offensively there is no dependable output other than a rare spark in Game 1. For the series, he's averaging 8.0 points on 31.9% shooting from the field and 28.1% from beyond the arc. Those numbers are his worst since his abysmal 5-game Playoffs in 2012 with the New York Knicks.