If there is anything we know about LeBron James and the Indiana Pacers, it is that these two always make for a great playoffs series. Luckily for NBA fans, we will not have to wait long. The Cleveland Cavaliers will take on the Indiana Pacers in the fist round.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 14, 2017
These two teams have played each other four times this season, with Cleveland winning three of them. In their most recent meeting, the game went into double overtime. It was a dog fight between LeBron James and Paul George. LeBron put up 41 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. George put up 43 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. LeBron sealed the deal when he hit a clutch three-pointer in the final minute to put the game away.
The Pacers are riding a five game winning streak and are not showing any signs of slowing down. After winning their last game, they secured a spot in the playoffs. They started slow but were able to turn it on for a postseason opportunity.
In mid March, the Pacers brought back Lance Stephenson, who was one of the players who battled it out against LeBron’s old team (Miami Heat). Lance is famous for “blowing” in LeBron James’ ear in the Conference Finals, in an attempt to get in the mind of the best player in the world.
Cavs: 2 seed
Pacers: 7 seed
LeBron James and Lance Stephenson reunited!
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) April 13, 2017
Paul George, one of the premier two-way players in the league, has been great this season. He is the leader of this team and hoping to pull off the upset against the Cavaliers. This season, George is averaging 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three. George is confident about the series, saying this in an interview:
“We’re ready for this,” George said. “We’re playing great basketball right now. Everybody has a clear understanding of what needs to be done and individually what they need to do. I love the playoffs. I love playing on the biggest stage and it’ll be great going up against LeBron again.” Via (UPI.com The Sports Xchange)
Parcers’ head coach Nate McCillan, is also optimistic about the playoffs:
“We had an uphill climb,” McMillan said, according to the Star. “This team was built to get to the playoffs. I think we’re playing good basketball and I think we can play better.” Via (UPI.com The Sports Xchange)
The Cavaliers are entering the postseason with four straight losses; opposite to the Pacer’s recent wins. Since the All-Star break, Cleveland has been playing the exact opposite of what you would expect the defending champs to play like. Over the last 46 games, the team is 23-23.
After the All-Star break they allowed the 29th most points scored of any team. To be fair, they have dealt with some injuries. Kevin Love has missed time with a knee injury; J.R. Smith has missed time with a thumb injury, and Iman Shumpert missed time with an ankle injury.
Cleveland did add some pieces to their team to improve their second unit. They made a trade for sharpshooter Kyle Korver from the Atlanta Hawks and signed Deron Williams after being released by the Dallas Mavericks. Those were only two of the many acquisitions they made.
Even with their recent struggles, the Cavaliers are still the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference. They coughed up the first seed to the Boston Celtics by resting their star players in the final few games of the season. Being that, they will not have home court advantage if they meet the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The reason the Cavaliers are still the favorites to come out of the East is because of a 6’8″, 250 lb., four time MVP, three time NBA champion named LeBron James. He has been to six consecutive finals and has been known to step up his game in the playoffs. LeBron has nothing but the utmost confidence for his team about the payoffs:
“We have a good chance to win it all,” James said, with the series set to begin on Saturday for Game 1 in Cleveland. “But it starts with baby steps first and we understand that. It starts with our opponent in two days. We have to be very determined, but we also have to be very smart about our game plan and how we execute that game plan, execute that (for as close to) 48 minutes as possible starting with Game 1.” Via (UPI.com The Sports Xchange)
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) April 14, 2017
The Cavaliers did the impossible last season, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Head Coach Tyronn Lue was a big part of that amazing comeback, and he is not worried about how this season ended.
“For me I know y’all count it as a lost season but we won 50 games,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’re second seed. It’s not like we’re eighth seed and we needed a team to win last night to back into the playoffs. I mean, (darn), what do you want? So, with all the injuries, and all the things we’ve been through, and new pieces, I feel good.” Via (UPI.com The Sports Xchange)
This should be one of the better first round series and has good potential to go to seven games. They both match up really well and the games should be back and forth brawls.
Prediction: Cleveland in Six