Cavs go for 15th straight home win against struggling Pacers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been firing on all cylinders offensively of late, even putting together a strong performance despite a lackluster game from LeBron James.
They’re still looking to get back up to snuff defensively, however, and a matchup with the struggling Indiana Pacers could be just what they need.
Cleveland seeks a 15th straight home win Friday night versus Indiana.
The Cavaliers (44-26) have won five of six, losing only at Miami on Monday. They’ve averaged 123.8 points on 53.0 percent shooting in their last four wins and used balanced scoring in a 117-92 rout of Brooklyn on Wednesday. Seven players reached double figures in points and five hit at least two 3-pointers as the team finished 15 for 29 from beyond the arc and shot 54.9 percent overall.
The Cavaliers had been 1-5 when James scores fewer than 18 points, but overcame him being limited to 16 on 5-of-13 shooting.
James had scored 26 or more in three of four.
"You can’t expect him to have huge games that he’s had fairly regularly and you can’t expect that all the time," coach David Blatt said. "The second thing is that it takes a lot of pressure off him going forward knowing that other guys can pick up the slack and carry it well."
The Cavaliers recorded 32 assists on 45 field goals and are assisting on 65.6 percent of their baskets over their last six home games. They’ve shot 48.0 percent while winning their last 14 at home, their longest streak there since a 16-game run from Feb. 11-April 12, 2009.
Cleveland, which also won its first 23 at home that season, has seven home games remaining after Friday.
Kyrie Irving is shooting 51.3 percent from 3-point range during the winning streak while Kevin Love is at 44.1 percent.
The Pacers (30-37) went a league-best 13-2 from Feb. 4-March 12 but have since lost three in a row, averaging 91.0 points on 40.9 percent shooting. They were scoring 102.0 points per game and shooting 46.4 percent over the previous 15 games.
The last two losses have come by a combined 36 points, including a 103-86 defeat in Chicago on Wednesday. It was Indiana’s lowest point total since an 80-71 overtime loss to Charlotte on Jan. 17.
"We’ve got some guys that are a little bit out of sync offensively, so we’ve just got to figure that out," coach Frank Vogel said.
Roy Hibbert is 11 for 27 (40.7 percent) over the last three while David West is 9 for 27 (33.3).
"Individually we’ve got to do better and we have got to get a better rhythm going," West, whose 47.4 field-goal percentage is his lowest his 47.2 mark in 2008-09, told the team’s official website.
Cleveland is also out to re-establish its strong defense. The Cavaliers rank 27th over their last eight games allowing 109.0 points per 100 possessions. They gave up 98.0 over their previous 21 games, ranking fourth in that span.
"We want to get back to where we were before," Blatt said.
Indiana’s 15-game surge included two home wins over Cleveland, 103-99 on Feb. 6 and 93-86 on Feb. 27. The Pacers are trying to avoid a third straight road loss in the series.