In Game 2 of their series against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers fell victim to an offensive flurry to open the second half, never fully recovering and falling 117-111 on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The loss drops the Pacers into a 0-2 hole as they return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Games 3 and 4 this week.
In a similar fashion to Game 1 being a missed opportunity for the Pacers, Game 2 had its frustrations as well, as LeBron James turned it over an uncharacteristic eight times. Even with the missteps, Indiana was unable to capitalize, especially after getting outscored 33-20 in the third quarter.
It was already a double-digit Cavaliers lead in the third when the Pacers attempted to guard Kevin Love with the undersized Lance Stephenson.
The Cavaliers responded by feeding Love on every possession, with the result being a 10-0 Cleveland run in which Love scored all 10 points, then drew a charge of defense for good measure.
By the time Indiana was able to respond to the outpouring from Love, who finished with 27 points, the Cavaliers had built a 19-point lead, their biggest of the night.
To close the third, in which Cleveland outscored Indiana by 13, Irving hit a step-back 3-pointer, putting the Cavaliers up 96-78 going into the final quarter of Game 2.
Indiana made two spirited rallies in the fourth, the first of which got the lead down to 102-91 after a Thaddeus Young layup. But Kyrie Irving responded in force, scoring three straight Cleveland buckets, including a 3-pointer to make it 109-94. Irving finished his night with a game-high 37 points.
But even then, the Pacers weren’t ready to call it quits. A slick feed from George to Myles Turner in the paint with 3:14 remaining in the game chopped the deficit to just seven points.
After forcing a jump ball and winning the tip, the Pacers pulled even closer, turning their run to 10-0 when George hit a runner in the lane.
James responded with his 25th point of the night, bullying his way to the basket to put the Cavs up 111-104. But George was quick to initiate offense, picking up a foul and drilling both of his free throws to get it back to a five-point game with 1:45 remaining.
Finally, a missed 3-point attempt from George, coupled with an offensive rebound by Tristan Thompson on the other end, spelled the end of the game for Indiana, spoiling its comeback bid from 19 points down as the Pacers were forced to foul in the game’s closing seconds.
To open the night, the Pacers were in the zone offensively, with George slamming home the game’s first bucket and nailing two 3-pointers to put Indiana up 9-4 in the first quarter.
From there, however, the Cavs swung back, embarking on a 10-2 run which put Cleveland up 14-11.
Even after a 3-pointer from J.R. Smith — who would later exit with a hamstring strain — put the Cavaliers up 19-16, Indiana came right back with a 3-pointer of its own, this time from the hands of point guard Jeff Teague, tying the game at 19 all.
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But with three minutes left in the opening quarter, an errant Pacers pass was collected by James, who ran the length of the court and threw down a thundering dunk, sending Quicken Loans Arena into a deafening roar and forcing Pacers head coach Nate McMillan to spend a timeout.
Out of the break, with reserves Lance Stephenson and Glenn Robinson III inserted in the game, Indiana used a quick 6-0 burst to regain control of the lead with a 27-24 advantage.
That lead wouldn’t hold for long, as Love and Deron Williams connected on back-to-back 3-pointers for a 6-0 run of their own.
When the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, Cleveland led Indiana 32-29.
As the second quarter opened, the Pacers were unable to contain James on either end, with the Cavaliers opening the frame on an 8-0 tear, six of which were from James. The onslaught put the Pacers down 40-29, their largest deficit of the night at that point, as McMillan called timeout with 8:40 left in the half to regroup his team.
Indiana responded out of the timeout, getting three straight buckets from Stephenson to help get its deficit back to single digits.
The Cavaliers answered Indiana’s run much like it did for the entire game: a barrage of 3-pointers. Cleveland hit 9-of-16 3-point attempts in the first half, including back-breakers from Williams and Love in the second quarter to push the Cavaliers lead back to double-digits. The Cavs finished the night having made 13-of-31 from deep.
After falling behind by 10, Indiana closed the first half out strong, using a 5-0 run capped by a free throw from Robinson III to draw the deficit to a 63-58 lead at halftime.
When the second half began in Cleveland, it mirrored the start of the second quarter, as Cleveland jumped out on a 7-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Iman Shumpert to force McMillan to burn his first timeout of the half just 1:35 seconds into the third.
From that point forward, the Cavaliers began to catch fire, using Love’s personal 10-0 run to push the advantage to nearly 20 points.
The Pacers had two final threatening runs in them, rattling off a 7-0 run to open up the fourth quarter and get the score down to a 96-85 deficit. Then came Indiana’s 12-2 strike with under five minutes left. But even with the outpourings of offense, the Pacers still couldn’t make up for the deficit that was created by Cleveland’s rollicking third quarter, putting the Pacers in desperation mode as the series returns to Indiana with the Blue & Gold down 2-0.
Inside the Numbers
All of Cleveland’s “Big Three” surpassed 20 points on the night. Irving had 37, James 25, and Love 27.
In their franchise history, the Cavaliers have never lost a series in which they led 2-0.
The Pacers and Cavaliers each shot better than 50 percent from the field, with the Cavaliers leading the way shooting 55.3 percent.
Kevin Love’s 27 points came on 6-of-7 shooting. Love was 3-of-4 from 3-point land and hit all 12 of his free throw attempts.
You Can Quote Me On That
“They are a team with many weapons. I thought in the third quarter we just lost our composure. I thought we started to get frantic out there. When they made a run, offensively, we tried to get it back ourselves and just lost our poise. We weren’t calm during that third quarter and I thought that was big.” -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
“In both games, Game 1 and Game 2, they’ve come down and they’re shooting with no one in front of them. Off of a kick ahead, we are doing just a terrible job of getting back and guarding people. We know how good LeBron [James] is going to be. We know how good Kyrie [Irving] is going to be. But the other guys, we need to be able to limit catch and shoot, especially when they’re coming off of just advancing the ball up.” -Paul George
“I think we get tired at times. It’s playoff basketball and they’re playing a lot of minutes and they’re competing. Also, we don’t push the ball every single possession when we get the chance. It’s not so much the iso because we have a lot of good players who can do that. I just thought it was our turnovers. We have to take care of the basketball. It got Paul George going early. When we turn the basketball over, we can’t get back. It hurts us. We had 19 turnovers for 24 points. It’s hard to win playoff games like this.” -Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue
- In his first game back from injury, Glenn Robinson III scored four points in nine minutes, making his only field goal
- Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith left the game at halftime with a strained hamstring. He did not return
- With his seven defensive rebounds, Paul George passed Jermaine O’Neal (387) on the Pacers’ NBA Playoff leaderboard for defensive boards. George now has 391, moving him into third place
The Pacers return to Indiana for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday, April 20 and Sunday, April 23. Find tickets at Pacers.com/Playoffs »
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.
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.
Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.
Postgame Show on FOX Sports Indiana
At the conclusion of Monday’s game, be sure to switch over to FOX Sports Indiana for a one-hour Pacers postgame show. Chris Denari and Eddie Gill will anchor the coverage from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, while Jeremiah Johnson will bring you locker room interviews and more from Cleveland.
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.–>