Foul trouble happened to be the theme of the night as the Cavs racked up 25, but Cleveland’s stars willed their way to playoff win No. 1. The Cavs overcame the Indiana Pacers in a final second thriller with a score of 109-108, and set the tone coming into the offseason.
LeBron had a marvelous 32 points, six rebounds, and 13 assists while leading the team in minutes. Tristan Thompson did not seem phased with the thumb injury, as he racked up eight points, and 13 rebounds (six offensive). The big three accounted for 72 points, and made all of the necessary plays to win.
High energy was the formula for this game from the start, and LeBron maintained that energy from the moment he stepped on the court for pre-game. Love began with the first seven points of the game, and Kyrie carried that momentum from there on. LeBron had a quiet first quarter, while waiting until three minutes left in the first quarter to attempt a shot. The Cavs left the fourth quarter with a field goal percentage of 65 percent, and optimism going forward.
Entering the second quarter, the Cavs cultivated this energy and the stars on the team continued to shine. With about six minutes left in the second quarter, the atmosphere uplifted tremendously with LeBron’s acrobatic alley-oop from Kyrie.
LeBron ended off the second half with an emphatic and-one layup, and began the MVP chants. The Cavs led with a score of 66-59 while shooting 60 percent from the field, and the big three all were in double digits.
Paul George started off the third quarter with three consecutive buckets, and continued his recent hot streak as the primary scorer for the Pacers. Tension increased as the Pacers fought back vicariously, and brought the game within two points at the halfway mark of the third.
With five minutes remaining in the third, the big three all had three fouls on them, and that warranted limited minutes going into the fourth. All momentum shifted near the end of the third when LeBron slammed a monstrous dunk, off of a 50/50 hustle steal. He was near a triple double, and the Cavs went into the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead of 92-84.
Kyle Korver brought the fourth quarter into action with a long two-pointer off of a screen, assisted by LeBron. Lance Stephenson is fully acclimated to the Pacers scheme once again, and was the secondary playmaker that kept the game tight.
With two minutes left, the intensity flourished and the arena convulsed from excitement. LeBron and Kyrie made two sensational plays to put the Cavs ahead by three points, but the game remained tight. Kyrie had two crucial steals as well that seemed to solidify the win, but that wasn’t the case yet. Paul George hit a three-pointer from deep that brought the game within one point.
Twenty seconds remained as the Cavs held a one point lead, and the Pacers had possession of the ball following a timeout. Late game defense solidified the win as C.J Miles missed a potential game winner, and the Cavs squeezed their way out of a tight one.
The Cavs have now won 12 straight home playoff games against the Eastern Conference, and the they are now 4-1 against Indiana this season. LeBron has now also played his 200th playoff game, which lands as ninth on the all-time list. LeBron is also has won 18 straight first-round playoff games, covering a span of about five years.
The next playoff game will be held in Cleveland on April 21st, and the Cavs will look to continue the Eastern Conference home win streak.