If there was ever a series destined to go seven games, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers — one of the tightest first-round matchups in NBA history.
Game 6 didn’t fit in with the previous four games, which were grinders to the end, but it followed the general path of what has happened between a fading favorite and an upstart challenger. The Pacers believe they have the better team, if not the best player,authentic nfl jerseys cheap and razor-thin losses in the previous two games didn’t convince them any different.
They performed that way Friday, not only battering the Cavs 121-87 but also bruising them. LeBron James was leveled by a shoulder from Thaddeus Young, opening a cut above his eye. Kevin Love was knocked from the game after a collision with Myles Turner in the third quarter.
Early in the first quarter, the Pacers ran a set play for Victor Oladipo, running him through two screens to free him for a 3-pointer on the wing. He rose and released with perfect form and the ball banged through. He jogged up the floor looking pounds lighter than the guy who was 7-of-35 over the previous two games.
He floated and muscled his way to 15 first-quarter points, punctuating it with a reverse transition dunk that flushed whatever remained from the slump. It was just the opening act of a command performance, the exact sort of lift a star is supposed to deliver in an elimination game.
The Cavs made six of their first nine 3-pointers and then missed their next 11. They finished 12-of-38 (31.6 percent). This has been a trademark of the team since its midseason trades; they tend to go cold from the perimeter and when they do it’s typically curtains in a big way. In that span of misses, the Pacers’ confidence grew as they were able to get stops and create transition offense.
Oh, and the Pacers had transition offense. They racked up 30 — 30! — fast-break points in only the first three quarters, and outscored Cleveland 35-12 overall on the break. In an Eastern Conference playoff game, that sort of number is preposterous. nfl jerseys for cheap The Cavs can’t dream of keeping up with that, ahem, pace the way they’re playing in this series.
What it leaves is a Game 7 Sunday in Cleveland. James has won his past four Game 7s; in fact he hasn’t lost one since 2008. But this is his first in a first-round series, the first time he might be representing the inferior team in such a game.