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NBA Playoffs 2018: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers Game 2 - Match Preview

Dheeraj Kumar
CONTRIBUTOR
Preview
730   //    18 Apr 2018, 20:10 IST

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Preview

Indiana Pacers were aggressive from the jump Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena, leading by as many as 20 points in the first quarter and turning back a second-half charge in opening the series with a 98-80 victory over Cleveland Cavaliers

Victor Oladipo shot 11-of-19, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and scored 32 points to lead the Pacers, who closed out well defensively on the perimeter against the Cavaliers and limited them to eight for 34 from 3-point range.

Oladipo also got offensive help from his starting teammates as Myles Turner had 16 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 15. LeBron James recorded his 20th career postseason triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds, but the rest of Cleveland’s starting five were a combined 10-for-30, including 5-of-16 from beyond the arc.

Jeff Green, who Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue inserted into the starting lineup late in the regular season to help the team defensively, struggled on the offensive end as he missed all seven of his shots.

While the Cavaliers were down 2-0 in a series as recently as last year’s NBA Finals, they have not been down 2-0 while owning home-court advantage since being swept out of the first round of the 1996 postseason in three games by the New York Knicks.

Three keys to the game

Indiana's history books - The last time the Pacers won the first two games of a series on the road was the only time they accomplished the feat in playoffs history back in 1994 at Orlando en route to a three-game sweep in the first round.

The Pacers reached the Eastern Conference finals that year, losing a deciding seventh game on the road against the New York Knicks.

Oladipo opens, Oladipo closes - Sometimes it is not about the number of points a player scores, but when he scores them. In the case of the Pacers' All-Star guard, though, it was both.

Oladipo's playoff career high of 32 points started with 11 in the decisive first quarter and ten in the fourth to help keep Cleveland at arm's length. Not bad for a guy who entered the contest with 54 points on 34.4 percent shooting in five postseason games for his career.

Your statistical reminder that LeBron James is REALLY GOOD in the playoffs - Despite Sunday's defeat, James passed Michael Jordan for second place with 2,189 field goals in the playoffs and joined Magic Johnson and John Stockton as the only players with 1,500 assists in the playoffs. 

James, who trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for most field goals, is already the NBA's all-time leading postseason scorer with 6,187 points. He also trails only Ray Allen (385) in 3-pointers with 331.

Matchup to watch

Myles Turner (C) vs Kevin Love (C) - In a series where the secondary defensive players are important given the scoring prowess of superstars James and Oladipo, both teams are trying to figure out who they can live with beating them. The Pacers quickly settled on Green, and the decision paid off as he took a goose egg.

The Cavaliers felt they could make that gamble on Turner, who closed the season in a scoring funk and had reached double figures just once in his final ten games and averaged 7.3 points on 32.9 percent shooting in that span. 

Instead, the third-year center hit 6-of-9 shots, including a 3-pointer, and pulled down 8 rebounds while being part of an active defense that gave the Cavaliers little space on the perimeter and help to whoever was guarding James when he ventured into the paint.

Love did not have the greatest of games either offensively as all 9 of his points came from 3-point range. While he grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds, Love only took 2 of his 8 shots from inside the arc. 

Almost 55 percent of the forward's shot attempts in the 11 regular-season games he played after missing time with a fractured hand came from 3-point range, but 75 percent may be too much for Cleveland to be effective offensively when there are other perimeter options in Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith in addition to James and Green.

Indiana Pacers probable starters

PG - Darren Collison

SG - Victor Oladipo

C - Myles Turner

SF - Bojan Bogdanovic

PF - Thaddeus Young

Cleveland Cavaliers probable starters

PG - George Hill

SG - Rodney Hood

C - Kevin Love

SF - LeBron James

PF - Jeff Green

Match details

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena

Date and time: ET - 18 April 2018, 7:00 PM; IST - 19 April 2018, 4:30 AM

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Dheeraj Kumar
CONTRIBUTOR
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