Pacers will try to halt Cavs from getting 14th straight win
INDIANAPOLIS — Pacers guard Victor Oladipo understands the assignment at hand won’t be easy.
After a rough start, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won a franchise-record-tying 13 consecutive games heading into Friday night’s game at Indiana.
“They’re a great team and they are playing very, very, very well right now,” Oladipo said. “They have a lot of great players on that team, and we’re going to have to be ready to play.”
Cleveland (18-7) might be looking for some payback after a 124-107 loss to the visiting Pacers on Nov. 1.
Guard Dwyane Wade, a 12-time All-Star, is leading the Cavaliers’ second unit.
“We said all year our bench is special,” Wade said. “When you have guys like Jeff (Green) go off for 20 or Kyle (Korver) or myself go off for 20, it makes us special and makes us a tough team. We don’t have to do it (score 20) every night. That guy (LeBron James) over there does, that’s what he signed up for. When you come off the bench, you have to do what you can to help the team win.”
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said his reserves have been phenomenal.
“They know how to play the game and play off each other,” Lue said.
Meanwhile, James’ shooting has been better than ever. A career 34.4 percent 3-point shooter, James is converting at 43 percent from 3-point range this season. He is shooting 58.7 percent overall from the field, well above his career 50.3 shooting percentage.
“I want to continue to improve my game,” James said. “I try to get better and better each and every year. Shooting the ball is what the league has kind of turned into. For me to continue to improve is what I wanted to do. I put a lot of work in my offseason training.”
James, who is averaging 28.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.6 assists, sealed a 101-95 victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday with a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and 15.8 seconds left.
Korver started the comeback with three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. The Cavs trailed by five after three quarters.
“There are games you feel like (you are in) a rut that you can’t get out of, and then a guy like Kyle (who) is never standing still can help us get out of it, which he did,” James said.
Oladipo knows the feeling. The Pacers (14-11) needed an even bigger fourth-quarter comeback to beat the visiting Chicago Bulls 98-96 on Wednesday. Indiana trailed the Bulls by 14 after three quarters. The first lead Indiana took was at 97-96 when Oladipo hit a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left.
“There are 82 games, and you are bound to have a slow start like that no matter if you are home or on the road,” Oladipo said. “You got to realize the great teams respond no matter what the situation. It took us into the fourth quarter to do it, and we did it.”
Pacers center Myles Turner said the fans helped to motivate the team during the rally.
“We feed off the crowd’s energy every game, especially down the stretch,” Turner said. “Whenever we see these seats filled and we don’t see any green (empty seats), it fires us up. I know Friday is going to be packed because we are playing the Cavs. We’d like to see it like that every night.”