Posted on April 28, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Indiana Pacers have certainly played well against the Cleveland Cavaliers throughout their opening round series. But heading into Game Six, they knew they had to do something special if they were going to win the series. They’d have to make history. So, they did exactly that by handing Lebron James one of the largest postseason losses of his career, 121-87.
That means for the first time in his illustrious career, LeBron James will be playing in danger of being eliminated in the first round.
After coming close to beating the Cavs in Game Four and Five, the Pacers knew they could beat the Cavaliers. But they also knew they needed something to happen if they were going to do it. Victor Oladipo had to break out of his slump.
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For the last three games, Oladipo has struggled from the floor hitting just 24 percent of shots. But Friday night was a little different. This time he went 11-19 from the floor including 6-8 from three-point range for 28-points.
He also had 13 rebounds and 10 assists giving him his first career triple-double in the postseason. It’s just the third triple-double by a Pacers player in NBA history.
“I just went out there and played. [I] did everything with confidence. I just played read and react,” Oladipo said after the game (via ESPN). “This game is over. It means absolutely nothing right now.”
While the final outcome was a blowout, the game did not appear headed in that direction in the first half. The game looked like it was going to be a close one in the first quarter. The Cavs appeared to be in a position to take an early lead after a Kevin Love three-pointer made the score 22-17, Cleveland. But the Pacers went on a 12-4 run to close the quarter and take the lead, 29-26.
Cleveland jumped ahead briefly after opening the second with a couple of quick baskets. But the Pacers slowly took over the quarter. At the half, Indiana was up by ten, 57-47.
While no one likes to be down at the half, the Cavs were likely not worried. They had to think they could overcome their issues and rise above in the second half. It didn’t matter that LeBron James got knocked down and bloodied up a little late in the half. If there was anyone who could pull through in a clutch situation like this, it’s James.
But instead, the Pacers came out fast and furious in the second half and blew James and the Cavs out of the water. Their ten-point halftime lead became a 20-point advantage about midway through the third quarter following a three-pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic.
When the quarter came to an end, the Pacers held a 25-point lead, 92-67.
“They just took it to us (in the third),” James said after the game (via ESPN). “They made shots. We missed shots. We didn’t counter what they were doing defensively or offensively, and it just turned the game wide open.”
Cavs head coach Ty Lue echoed those sentiments in his post-game comments (via ESPN):
“I thought they really played fast and tried to attack us early. I don’t even remember (what happened to start the second half). [I] really don’t. It happened so quickly.”
Both James and Oladipo ended up sitting out the fourth quarter with the game well in-hand.
All five starters for the Pacers scored in double figures along with two bench players. Oladipo led the way with his 28 points followed by Domantis Sabonis who had 19 points off the bench. Daren Collison had 15 points, and Lance Stephenson chipped in another 12.
James led the Cavaliers with 22 points which is also what the other four starters contributed.
Game Seven will be in Cleveland Sunday afternoon. The home team is typically favored in such games. But the Cavaliers had never lost the first game of an opening-round series before the Pacers dominated Game One of this series, 98-80.