After a heartbreaking 109-108 loss in Game 1 of the Pacers’ first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Pacers forward Paul George summed it up best: “It’s gut-checking time.”
Saturday’s game — in which the Pacers used a furious fourth-quarter rally to take a two-point lead down the stretch — might feel like check in the gut, especially when LeBron James took the game over using his scoring and court vision to guide the Cavs out of danger. But what matters now is how Indiana responds in Game 2.
Aside from George, who continued his run of April excellence with 29 points and seven assists, many of the Pacers struggled to find a rhythm, especially as James and company racked up 66 points on offense through the first two quarters.
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Down the stretch, however, several of the Pacers found their touch. Jeff Teague, who finished 3-of-10 from the field, canned two critical 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Myles Turner, who was 5-of-12, came up with an incredible block late in the fourth, breathing life into the Pacers’ comeback bid.
Those plays in the fourth quarter, in which the Pacers outscored Cleveland 24-17, give hope to the idea that Indiana is starting to feel settled against the Cavaliers and their deafening crowd.
In what was just his seventh game back in a Pacers uniform, Lance Stephenson again made the case for more minutes on the floor, compiling his best overall performance since returning to the team with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 27 minutes.
Stephenson played up until the final whistle at the shooting guard spot, with his size helping to solve a defensive problem the Pacers face when switching defenders. Aside from his defensive versatility, Stephenson is also a jolt of electricity, pushing the tempo of the Pacers while on the floor.
“We went to a bigger lineup at the guard position with Lance (Stephenson) playing the point guard. We were just trying to keep them in front of us and I think that worked,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. “They had to shoot contested twos. LeBron (James) was able to get into the paint and score on some of those occasions, but it allowed us to get back into this game and eventually have an opportunity to win.”
On the road against the defending champions, the opportunity to win is about as much as one can ask for. While they came up inches short on Saturday with Miles’ shot glancing off the rim, Indiana’s next opportunity comes Monday evening.
And as George said, “It’s gut-checking time.”
Pacers: PG – Jeff Teague, SG – Monta Ellis, SF – Paul George, PF – Thaddeus Young, C – Myles Turner
Cavaliers: PG – Kyrie Irving, SG – J.R. Smith, SF – LeBron James, PF – Kevin Love, C – Tristan Thompson
Pacers: Glenn Robinson III – out (sore left calf), Al Jefferson – questionable (sprained left ankle)
April 15, 2017: The Pacers had the final shot and a chance to steal Game 1 on the road, but C.J. Miles’ look at the buzzer went wide as Indiana fell 109-108 in the series-opening matchup.
Paul George picked up just where he left the regular season off, scoring at will. George poured in a team-high 29 points for the Pacers, going 6-of-8 from behind the arc, but Indiana’s comeback proved to be too little too late.
After giving up more than 30 points in each of the opening quarters, the Pacers were playing catchup for nearly the entire second half.
A Jeff Teague 3-point shot gave the Pacers a lead with three minutes remaining in in the fourth, where Indiana outscored Cleveland 24-17.
But down the stretch, the LeBron James and Kyrie Irving — who combined to score 55 points — proved to be too much to handle, pushing Cleveland to a victory on its own floor.
- The Cavaliers have won 12 consecutive games against Eastern Conference opponents at Quicken Loans Arena.
- The Pacers outrebounded the Cavaliers 41-34 in Game 1.
- Even though the Cavaliers made seven more trips to the free throw line, the Pacers made more free throws (IND: 17, CLE: 14).
- Paul George has now scored 20 or more points in 13 consecutive games.
After two games in Cleveland, the Pacers return to Indiana for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday, April 20 and Sunday, April 23. Find tickets at Pacers.com/Playoffs »
TV: TNT – Marv Albert (play-by-play), Brent Barry (analyst), Kristen Ledlow (sideline reporter)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)
Please Note: For the remainder of the season, all Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on FM 107.5 as well as AM 1070 The Fan.
Away Game Night Special
Primary Logo T-Shirt – $12. Game Night Specials can be purchased online the day of each away game from 10:00 AM – Midnight. Order Online »
Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special
Fan Appreciation Night: 50% – 75% Off Select items. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersGear.com until midnight.
Construction Note: The Delaware St. entrance to the Virginia Ave. Parking Garage is no longer in operation due to the construction of the St. Vincent Center. To enter the Virginia Ave. Parking Garage, please use the entrance located at the intersection of E Maryland St. and S Alabama St.
In addition, the southbound lane of Delaware Street from Maryland to just south of the train bridge will be closed for the duration of the construction project.–>