The Indiana Pacers kept fighting back even after being down 19 points and made it another close game, but the Cavaliers offense was too much too handle as got their second straight win to open the series by a final score of 117-111.
Paul George had another night where he was rarely stopped, putting up 32 points, seven assists and eight rebounds despite spending much of the game being double teamed.
This game got away from the Pacers in the third quarter when Nate McMillan tried to guard Kevin Love with Lance Stephenson. Stephenson picked up a foul on three of four consecutive possessions and allowed Love to score on the other as the Cavs picked the curious choice of a matchup apart over and over again.
After the Pacers finally switched Stephenson off of Love, CJ Miles gave up another bucket before McMillan quit sending guards to guard the All-Star power forward and the 10 straight points put the Cavaliers up 19 points.
Stephenson took the blame saying that the plan was for him to front Love, get help from the weak side.
“I didn’t do it,” said Stephenson. “It was my fault.”
It was reminscient of the game one mismatch that the Cavaliers exploited from the Pacers switching Jeff Teague onto LeBron James on pick and rolls. In two close games, questionable defensive strategies have been costly to the Pacers.
The Pacers don’t have a ton of great options against this Cavaliers offense but still some strange choices by the coaching staff to this point.
Kyrie Irving picked apart Teague all night as he went off for 37 points. At the end of the third, he added to Stephenson’s defensive nightmares by hitting a three near the buzzer.
Stephenson, who played well despite the unfavorable defensive matchup with 13 points and four assists, hit a 3-quarter-court heave at the buzzer but not enough time was left on the clock for him to get the shot off.
Teague got back as many points as he could with an efficient 23 points on only 12 shot attempts. Thaddeus Young added 16 points on only 11 attempts.
Pacers defense struggled once again as it gave up 55% shooting for the second straight game. Cavaliers also won the rebounding battle and improved their free-throw shooting to 87% (20 of 23) after struggling from the line in game one.
“It’s the little stuff that we’re not doing a great job of controlling,” said George. “That’s the easy 3s and uncontested layups that we’re giving up. We’re just doing a terrible job of getting back and guarding people.”