The Indiana Pacers are now down 3-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it appears their season is nearly over.
The Indiana Pacers had a lot of opportunities to get into the series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, with three close games that ended in three losses. Now, they sit down 3-0 with little chance of making this thing a series.
How did the Pacers get here? Well, they played just well enough to have their hearts broken multiple times. Game 1 was a fistfight that Indiana eventually lost by just one point. Paul George and LeBron James went toe-to-toe. Lance Stephenson annoyed people. Jeff Teague even hit a few shots. But late-game mistakes and miscues doomed the Pacers to spoiling their best chance at a road win.
Obviously, the big talking point out of that first loss was C.J. Miles taking the final shot over George. The furor around that reeked of pettiness and took away from a solid Pacers performance. It signaled a bad omen for the rest of the series, even though Indiana would continue to play well.
Game 2, again, was a close, hard-fought win for Cleveland. Kyrie Irving had his best game of the series (37 points), and both James and Kevin Love put up big numbers. A late Pacers run wasn’t enough to level the score at 1-1. Yet again, even with solid performances from George, Teague and Thaddeus Young, Indiana had nothing to show for it.
This brings everything to Game 3. For most of the game, it really did look like the Pacers were going to make this a series. Indiana scored 74 points in the first half, 37 in each quarter. The offense was clicking, and the Cavs defense everyone was worried about appeared again. George looked like he was on his way to a dominant 40-point game. Even the struggling Myles Turner had the dunk of the playoffs over Tristan Thompson.
But it was not to be. After all, the Cavaliers do have LeBron James. Truly, he is still good for one or two of these performances every single series. A game where he just will not let the team lose. Game 3 was exactly that.
James took over, asserting himself as maybe the best player in the league. He finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. He simply wouldn’t let the Cavs lose this game and let the Pacers back into the series.
Indiana could do nothing to stop James and collapsed in the final quarters. After scoring 37 points twice in the first half, they didn’t get more than 23 in the third or fourth quarters. George became much less efficient from the field (10-for-28), and nobody else helped pick up the slack. Again, Indiana was so close to a win but now sits very far away from staying in this series.
It could easily be 2-1 in the Pacers’ favor right now. Instead, they’re one more loss away from being eliminated in four games. It’s unfortunate that some strong play will most likely be overshadowed by the sweep and what the summer holds.
The series has been an up-and-down one for several key Pacers. Monta Ellis is almost definitely gone this year. Second-year big man Turner hasn’t looked great. And George has played well, but is he really the best player on a championship contender? These are all crucial points for the Indiana franchise as it heads into the summer.
Unless George and the Pacers have a little left still in the tank, this series seems to be a wasted opportunity. The Cavs have been shaky. The Pacers have remained close. Somehow, that still equals a lopsided series.