Cleveland Cavaliers – 117
Indiana Pacers – 111
When Cavaliers fans asked for their team to “flip the switch,” they didn’t realize they needed to specify it needed to be left on. On Monday night, the Cavs flipped the switch. And then flipped it back off. And then back on. Back off. And, finally, on for good, taking Game 2, 117-111, Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first round series against the Indiana Pacers.
Cleveland saw extended stretches of dominant play, with the Big Three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all taking turns controlling the game. The third quarter was as close to a fully-charged Cavaliers team as we’ve seen since their massacre against Boston during the regular season. The Cavs outscored the Pacers 33-20 in that quarter, with various explosions of defense, ball movement, shooting, and individual dominant play.
Irving scored 37 points on only 24 shots to flex his playoff muscles—again. He had his full arsenal of tricks on display, and embarrassed Lance Stephenson with this incredible crossover.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan mentioned in post-game that Irving’s constant attacking forced him to adjust his match-ups, ultimately ending up with Lance Stephenson guarding Love. While this may have slowed Uncle Drew’s scoring effort, it was solely because Love imposed his will on this match-up. He scored ten straight points, punctuated with Stephenson slamming the ball in frustration.
Love even took a big charge near the end of this sequence after several close calls went against him earlier in the game. His efforts seemed to fire-up the entire squad.
LeBron James finished three assists shy of a triple-double and even after 42 minutes of play, was flying around the defensive end grabbing rebounds and blocking shots to secure the victory.
LeBron gave the fans something to cheer about early in the first quarter, and Quicken Loans Arena was rocking for most of the night.
A side story in both victories of this series, and the season as a whole, has been the Cavaliers’ inability to maintain leads. A 13-point first half lead was cut to five before halftime. A 19-point second half lead was cut to five with just over two minutes left to play. When asked about those blown leads by WFNY’s own Scott Sargent, head coach Tyronn Lue immediately pointed out that it was the offense, not the defense to blame. When pressed further, Lue didn’t want to blame the isolation plays and lack of ball movement as much as the Cavs just not taking care of the ball.
One area of concern was J.R. Smith’s inability to play the second half due to an injury to his left hamstring. Iman Shumpert, after not playing in the first game of the series or the first half on Monday, entered the starting lineup and helped spur a 7-0 run to start the third quarter. Lue was not afraid to heap praise on Shumpert in the post-game.
“Shump was unbelievable… Our defense was really good and Shump sparked that.”
A timetable for Smith’s injury was not immediately available, but he was visibly frustrated on the Cavaliers bench coming out of half time.
Let’s look behind the box score at some of the numbers in this game.
Plus-6 – The Cavaliers ended the first quarter with LeBron and Kyrie on the bench and Deron Williams running the offense with Kevin Love. While it was an extremely small sample size and is inflated simply by making shots, this lineup looked promising.
821 – Kyrie Irving passed Mark Price for the second most points all-time for the Cavaliers.
2 – This play is only worth two points, but it’s worth highlighting Lue’s out-of-bounds plays. Richard Jefferson heaped praise on Lue post-game and this is an example of how much he’s a weapon for this team. As we see with the constant “LeBron is the General Manager!” stuff, it’s difficult to get praise when coaching James, but Lue deserves his fair share.
87 – Percentage from the free-throw line for the Cavaliers on Monday. After shooting 52% from the line in the first game of the series, it was a bit of a relief to see the Cavaliers shoot so well from the line. Kevin Love went 12-for-12 from the line, helping extend leads and keep the game under control.