Posted on April 29, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Indiana Pacers knew they were going to have their work cut out for them if they were going to beat LeBron James in Game Seven Sunday afternoon. But they had done so during the regular season and in three of six playoff games. Beat him Sunday and they would be able to lay claim to something no other team could.
They could become the first team to send LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs. But, as could be expected, James had something to say about that.
He controlled the pace of the game in the first half with 26-points as the Cavs took a 54-43 lead into the break. Rather than take a seat with cramps in the second half, he powered through and finished with 45 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and four steals.
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As could be expected after doing so much in 43 minutes, he was feeling a bit tired after the game. But since his team won 105-101, he was moving on to the next round.
“I’m burnt right now,” he said after the game (via ESPN). “I’m not thinking about Toronto right now until tomorrow. [I’m] ready to go home. Can we? I’m tired. I want to go home.”
Pacers guard Victor Oladipo was in awe of James after the game (via ESPN): “[He’s] amazing. He did what he always does. It’s not really shocking. He’s the best in the world, and that’s what the best does and now I gotta work to get on that level.”
James didn’t really get a lot of help from anyone else on the Cavs roster. But he got enough. Tristan Thompson chipped in a double-double with 15 points and ten rebounds. Kevin Love added 14 points and J.R. Smith tacked on 11.
His biggest help was the slow start the Pacers got off to. Indiana went 0-6 from the floor to start the game and didn’t hit their first basket until nearly five minutes into the game. When the first quarter came to an end, the Cavs had a 12-point lead, 31-19.
Indiana put up a better fight in the second quarter but was only able to close the gap by a point. An 18-4 run to start the third quarter allowed the Pacers to take a 61-58 lead with 6:38 to play in the quarter. But the Cavs offense woke up, took charge down the stretch, and regained the lead, 76-74, heading into the final quarter.
While they deserve an ‘A’ for effort, the Pacers just weren’t able to close the gap in the fourth. Cleveland led by as many as 12 points and remained in control the rest of the way. The Pacers got within four, 100-96 after Oladipo made a layup with 50.3 seconds to play. But that was as close as they got.
Oladipo had a slow start but still recorded a double-double for the Pacers with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Darren Collison carried the team in the first half and ended the game with 23 points. Bojan Bogdanovic, the hero of Game Three, struggled throughout the game with his shot making just one of nine shots.
“Honestly, I think we were the better team, and they had the best player in the world,” Pacers forward Trevor Booker said after the game (via ESPN).
It will probably go down as his toughest opening round series, but in the end, it concluded just like the rest for LeBron James—with a win. He and the rest of the Cavaliers will move on to face the Toronto Raptors in the Conference Semifinals.