The Pacers played their game, but the Cavs don't know what their "game" is

Game 6 shellacking sets up do or die game 7

Jake Chapman
April 28, 2018 - 8:51 am

© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


The Cavs were pounded in the paint, smoked in transition and cooked by the Pacers in game 6. It was a smorgasbord for Pacers fans, the perfect spread for a delightful evening of playoff basketball in Indianapolis. The Cavs did literally all of the things they can’t afford to do – crappy pick and roll defense, turnovers leading to runouts, no ball movement and sub-par three-point shooting. They turned it over 15 times, allowed 35(!!) fast break points and yielded 58(!!!!) points in the paint.

In all likelihood they'll lose any game where they let the opponent put up those numbers, but Cleveland has weathered storms like that this season with proficient three-point shooting and that guy named LeBron. On Friday night, it would’ve taken 20 or more made threes and something like 60 points from James to overcome the Pacer deluge. We’ll forgive the King for his “meager” 22-point output.

Every time it’s felt like the Cavs have seized control of a game or the series, the Pacers have punched back. And after the Cavs took games 4 and 5, including an all-time James performance and a game-winning three in game 5, it finally felt like the Pacers’ will was bending. But Indy is impervious to momentum, and they were the aggressors from the tap on Friday. Victor Oladipo snapped out of his offensive skid, using his speed and energy to put the Pacers on his back and leave the Cavs in his wake.

He finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and 4 steals. He was easily the best player on the floor. Meanwhile Domantas Sabonis has now strung together 3 straight games of 19+ points off the Pacer bench. And when you consider the fact that Paul George and Oklahoma City’s season ended Friday night, I mean, wow. Regardless of the outcome Sunday afternoon, Indy has to feel great about the future.

Of course, there are adjustments that can be made. Tristan Thompson should absolutely be playing. Love post-ups shouldn’t be a thing, not in this series anyway. The pick and roll defense has been up and down, but I won’t bash Ty Lue for that part because he and JR Smith deserve most of the credit for slowing Oladipo in games 2-5. But allowing all those paint points isn’t solely on the personnel. They need help from their coach. Getting George Hill back would make a difference as well.

Styles make fights, and the Pacers have a specific, defined style. They know what they’ll be wearing Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile the Cavs will spend the next 24 hours rifling through their closet, hoping they can find one more cute little number. If they don’t, it may be time for a whole new wardrobe.