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Pacers start strong, finish strong to stun Cavaliers in playoff opener

16 April 2018

IN came in 15-6 in the playoffs when it wins the opener.

These two squads locked up in the opening round of the Playoffs one year ago, but to say that each is a completely different team this year would be an understatement. The Pacers were one of the biggest surprises of the season, jumping from 42 to 48 wins after trading face of the franchise Paul George last summer.

"The past is the past for a reason", Victor Oladipo said following practice on Friday. Cleveland was just 8-of-34 on 3-pointers, including 1-of-9 in the fourth quarter.

If LeBron James is truly getting better, like fine wine - there's another National Basketball Association record that should be very concerning to the Pacers. To appreciate where this team stands now - a No. 4 seed, 50 regular-season wins, homecourt advantage in the first round, a healthy LeBron James and a shot at a fourth straight Finals - we must first consider the depths from where the Cavaliers came.

Sunday's showdown will be the LeBron's 24th career postseason meeting against IN, bringing a 16-7 mark into Game 1.

Prior to Sunday's loss, James' teams had won 21 straight first-round games. I think at the end of the day, we would love to have a long run, but that's going to be up to not only him but all of us.

However, the Cavaliers stormed back and ended the quarter on a 24-10 run. "So, it's very important that we try to keep a point guard on the floor with him at all times". The Cavs finished 5th in scoring and Offensive Rating along with 6th in 3-point shooting percentage, which has been their calling card all season. Cleveland has posted a 36-5 record in the East playoffs over the last three seasons. The Indiana Pacers are averaging 105.6 points on 47.2 percent shooting and allowing 104.2 points on 46.5 percent shooting. He also added six rebounds, four assists and four steals during the contest. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue hasn't announced his starters.

"I've been on a team that played a 10-man rotation in the playoffs, but I haven't been on a team this deep, so I think we'll have a lot of great guys that we can throw out there on the court with big lineups, small lineups", he said.

This weekend, it's the Pacers and the Cavaliers in the playoffs again.

Well, yes, the Cavs are where they are because James played every single game and enjoyed (almost inarguably) the best of his 15 regular seasons. Before the Cavaliers dealt Jae Crowder at the trade deadline, he was the player Pacers center Myles Turner sagged off.

Stephenson also hit LeBron on the head twice during the game. On the other end, five early points from Myles Turner and back-to-back three-point plays from Bojan Bogdanovic allowed IN to open up an 18-4 lead.

Outside the reunion of Lance Stephenson and LeBron James, the national media has already begun to debate who could be the toughest opponent for Cleveland moving forward.

The game had plenty of words exchanged between the two.

Pacers start strong, finish strong to stun Cavaliers in playoff opener