We'll look at IN going up against Cleveland IN this piece IN a matchup which ended 3-1 IN favor of the Pacers IN the regular season.
There's still a long way to go in this series, obviously. This has immediately drawn the attention toward how James will respond to being in this situation for the first time.
Let's take a look at who you should target on today's main slate, which starts at 1:00 PM EST and contains all four playoff games. James (27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds) and Love (17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds) have been the two most consistent options for Cleveland, and it falls on them to lead the team through an Eastern Conference that'll give them issues. But both LBJ and the Cavaliers are much different than they were back then, and Indy will get a taste of that on Sunday afternoon. It's when James shines most. Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner can help check James in the post, but perimeter defense is the major question mark.
The Pacers are feeling confident after beating the Cavs for fourth time this season.
While I am not surprised by James' ability to get triple doubles as his game has evolved, it was definitely surprising to learn that he has never played all 82 games before.
However, huge contributions from a number of players led to a solid season for Indiana.
With Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, former Pacer guard George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr, Jose Calderon, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clark, Tristan Thompson and recently acquired big man Kendrick Perkins to name drop, make no mistake about how good the Cavs are offensively. Health is a small thing until it becomes a big thing. Those Pacers, though, didn't have Oladipo or the balance of this Indy squad, which may lack experience but not confidence. All the players are important but Oladipo's health will be key.
The Pacers have also been good at defending the 3-point shot, ranking 5th in 3 point % allowed, at a measly 34.9% which is going to be vital against the Cavaliers. This time, though, Stephenson claims he has no plans to rankle King James. Their defensive intensity ramps up, while their offense becomes the juggernaut it is capable of but rarely reach. The Pacers might not be that flashy but they play pretty consistent basketball.
The Indiana Pacers were not expected to be competing in the playoffs. In four seasons with the Miami Heat and the last three years with Cleveland, the league's top star always managed to win the East on a team that was the conference's No.1 or No.2 seed.
Sabonis started three games against Cleveland this season and registered double-doubles in each of them.