Reality check: This is a game that the Cavaliers had no business winning. They were out scored in the paint 50-40, on the fast break 19-9, second chance points 26-8 and out rebounded 44-30.
So why were they able to pull it out 111-107? Timely defense for one and the fact that LeBron James knew that he and his team came into this one lacking focus and he gave them the spark they needed.
While coach Mike Brown had little interest in getting into a track meet with the Pacers, they ultimately had little choice. In short: when you can’t beat them, join ‘em. They out shot them 52 percent to 48 percent.
More importantly, the Cavaliers got 26 points off 24 Pacers’ turnovers and they only got 14 off 16.
Credit the those all-important trips to the line as well, as the Cavs hit on 24-of-28 free throws while the Pacers went to the line only 11 times.
Bench play proved an important factor in this one as well as Anderson Varejao tossed in 18 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 11.
Mike Brown on his team winning a game outside-the-box:
‘’It’s an exciting thing it. Usually if you’re going to have a good team or your team is going to have a chance to be good, you’re not going to be able to play, you’re not going to be able to play the way you want to play every night,’’ he said. ‘’ At times you’re just going to have to figure out a way to win a ballgame…I don’t think we would have won a game like this in the past.’’
LeBron James on the team’s depth:
We’re going to have a very good team. To have six players in double digits just shows the depth that we have and we are going to be really good if we continue to get better each night.
At the half:
Were it not for Zydrunas Ilgauskas the Cavs would be out of this one. Given that the Pacers opened with an 11-4 run to start the game, it looked as if they would be. They've scratched their way back, but the defense that they've staked their reps on is missing for the first quarter as the Pacers shot a blistering 56.5 percent from the floor and took a 29-20 lead. The Pacers have done a nice job keeping Ben Wallace off the boards and theyv'e hit a healthy number of three-point shots. The Cavs are getting beat in every facet of the game including in the paint, on the break and in second chance points.
Game: Cavaliers (3-2) vs. Indiana Pacers (1-2)
TV: FS Ohio
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Pacers: Danny Granger (F); Troy Murphy (F); Jeff Foster (C); Marquis Daniels (G); T.J. Ford (G).
Officials: Dan Crawford, Tony Brown, Derrick Stafford.
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won two in a row. Ben Wallace has had two consecutive games of more than 10 rebounds.
Three things to watch:
1) The Cavs defense against the Pacers and especially guard T.J. Ford. Coach Mike Brown said specifically that he wants his team to inflict their will on opponents. Now’s as good a test as any with a point guard that averages more than 17 points a game and 4 assists and guides a team that likes to run.
2) Pay attention to Ben Wallace on the boards. He’s dominated in that respect the past two games against Dallas and Chicago. It remains to be seen whether he can continue to keep it up at that kind of pace, but it’s good to see nonetheless.
3) LeBron James – I know. You always want to look at what James is doing. What is different this year, however, is that he’s playing on the perimeter less on the offensive end and relying more on his teammates. That in itself shows a basic level of trust, but pragmatically speaking it allows him to attack the hoop more. The result: more free throw attempts.
Mike Brown on the Pacers offense:
‘’For us, we’re trying to run more this year because we have quick guards, but we, at times, because we’re not used to playing that way, are sloppy and it turns into a rat race. And if this game turns into a rate race, the Pacers are going to win.’’
LeBron James on Danny Granger:
‘’He’s become their go to guy with the departure of Jermaine O’Neal and Steven Jackson. I think he’s started to grow and gain more confidence,’’ LeBron James said. ‘’He’s going to become one of the best (forwards) in this league and one of the best players if he continues to work. He’s a guy we need to key on tonight knowing he’s their No. 1 option.’’