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Cavs 117, Pacers 111: Marla's 35 shots from Beyond the Arc on J.R.'s hammy, Shumpert's redemption

By Marla Ridenour Published: April 18, 2017

Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-111 Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena to take a 2-0 lead in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

1. Before diving into J.R. Smith’s left hamstring injury -- "I wanted to play, they didn't want me to play,” Smith said – and Iman Shumpert’s “unbelievable” second half performance, according to coach Tyronn Lue, an encouraging comment on the team’s progress from LeBron James.

2. The question was about the Cavs being outscored in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game. On Monday, the Pacers finished with a 33-21 surge. In Saturday’s one-point Cavs’ victory, the Pacers had a 24-17 edge.

3. But James was not concerned about that troubling fact, even though the Pacers cut the Cavs’ 18-point lead going into the fourth quarter to four points with 19.5 seconds to go.

4. “Uh, no, cuz we’re right there,” James said. “We’re right there of what we know we can become, and we’ll figure it out. So, like I told you, I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. And we make plays down the stretch to win a ball game in the postseason, and that’s all you can ask for. But we’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”

5. James committed eight of the Cavs’ 19 turnovers, which led to 24 Pacers’ points. Perhaps that contributed to James’ thinking, knowing that’s a major problem he can fix on his own.

6. Pressed on why he believes the Cavs are right there, James said, “Uh, cuz we’re playing some really, really good basketball. Even in, you know, the first two quarters, we build a lead, we didn’t close out the second quarter as well….”

7. James’ words may not convince many. Perhaps Thursday night’s Game 3 or Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse will do that.

8. But James’ smoke signals couldn’t obscure a night of personal redemption for Shumpert.

9. Shumpert didn’t play in Game 1 of the series and his weak finish to the regular season made some wonder if Lue had written him out of his rotations.

10. Smith’s main responsibility against the Pacers is guarding Paul George and he had done it well, despite the four-time All-Star’s 29 points, five rebounds and seven assists in Game 1.

11. But when the Cavs came out of the locker room at halftime, Smith wasn’t with the team. When returned to the court, he didn’t stand behind the huddle, instead sitting on the court in the end zone, apparently angry. He didn’t move onto the bench until the action had started.

12. Asked about Smith’s frustration, Lue said, “Not knowing if he was going to get a chance to go. Our trainer Steve (Spiro) said it’s not a smart thing for him to try it, so we sat him out and he was kind of mad about it. When you get in the playoffs you want to compete and he’s been doing a great job. We understand that, but we’ve got to be smart also.”

13. Smith talked briefly as he walked down the hallway on his way out of the arena. He said he “landed the wrong way” and injured the hamstring. Asked if there was a debate about him returning to the game, he said, “I mean, I was fine tonight. If they let me play, then I’ll play. If they don’t let me play, then I won’t.” He also added, “My leg ain't broke.”

14. Smith said an MRI had not been scheduled and he had not had problems with that hamstring before. Lue said Smith would be evaluated Monday night.

15. Shumpert said he did not find out he was going in until the Cavs ran onto the court after halftime. He conferred with friend Kyrie Irving, but couldn’t remember Irving’s message.

16. “We’re close though, we talk all game. You were probably better off trying to read lips at that point,” Shumpert said.

17. Shumpert hit a 3-pointer with 10:25 left in the third quarter to give the Cavs’ a 12-point lead, which might have given him a mental boost.

18. But George’s second-half stat line was what told Shumpert’s story: 14 points, 4 of 11 field goals, 2 of 6 3-pointers. In the third quarter, as the Cavs opened a 96-78 lead, George scored four points, hitting 1 of 4 field goals and 0 for 2 3s.

19. “Shump was unbelievable. Just staying ready, being professional,” Lue said. “He came in and made it tough on Paul George. We held Paul George to four points in that third quarter where our defense was really good. Shump sparked that, made a couple shots for us also. Just his energy defensively, made a couple shots, his tenacity, it was really good for us. We needed that spark.”

20. Shumpert downplayed the fact that his defensive effort ignited his team.

21. “That’s all our purpose, to get out there and add to what the team needs to win. That’s everybody’s job, so I just did my job,” he said.

22. Lue wasn’t the only one raving about Shumpert.

23. “I think he played great. He gave us great minutes. He did a hell of a job on the defensive end, came in and made a big shot for us," Smith said. "He did what he was supposed to do."

24. “He gave us energy,” Irving said of Shumpert. “To have J.R. go out like that, come out at halftime, it was a big switch. But understanding that he’s there every day, he’s focused. Just understanding the moment, what it entails and going forward. He made some big plays for us and that’s a step in the right direction of being a consummate professional, especially being on a team like this. We have so many pieces on this team, but everyone has to stay ready. And he had that mindset, came in and executed. It’s hard to come off the bench right after halftime. We just need Shump to stay focused and understand the task at hand and I think he did a good job of that tonight. And hopefully J.R. is all right as well."

25. James lauded Shumpert’s effort as that of a “true professional.”

26. “Gotta stay ready. His number wasn’t called in Game 1. It wasn’t called for the first half of this game because of the circumstances. His number was called right away (in the third quarter) and he had to be ready,” James said. “He was keeping himself ready behind the scenes. We needed that energy from him. Also hit a big 3 on a swing-swing from Kev on the left side of the floor by their bench."

27. Lue explained why he decided to go with Richard Jefferson over Shumpert with the second unit. “Game 1 I substituted RJ for Kevin and they were still big, so I put him on Thaddeus (Young) and same thing tonight. That’s what prompted it,” Lue said.

28. Lue was impressed by how Shumpert handled the situation. He also played only six minutes in a home loss to Atlanta on April 7.

29. “He’s been great on the bench, cheering guys on, keeping guys motivated and when it was his turn to play he stepped up and played well. That’s what we need from Shump,” Lue said.

30. With Shumpert shutting down George, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said in the third quarter his team lost its composure and “started to get a little frantic.”

31. But George said the overall problem is the easy baskets the Pacers are giving up.

32. “We’re just not taking the fight to them right now. We’re not doing anything aggressively,” George said. “They’re killing us on the 1-3 pick-and-roll. We’ve got to figure it out at home. If we had the answers we’d probably be up in the series right now.

33. “Game 1 and Game 2 they come down and they’re shooting with nobody in front of them off a kick-ahead. We’re just doing a terrible job of getting back and guarding. We know how good LeBron is going to be, we know how good Kyrie is going to be. But the other guys, you’ve got to be able to limit catch-and-shoots. Especially when they’re coming off just them advancing the ball up. We’re doing a poor effort on that.”

34. George said those impressed with the Pacers’ fourth-quarter comebacks in both games are underestimating his team. Although the Cavs have never lost the previous 12 playoff series when they took a 2-0 lead, George thinks the Pacers can rally from the seemingly daunting deficit.

35. “It’s you guys writing us off that this game is going to be easy for the Cavs,” George said. “We take away some of these easy baskets we’re giving up and these games might be a little different. Every point in the game we know we’ve got a chance to come back, even when we’re down big. We know we’ve got an opportunity to clamp down and make baskets and get ourselves back in the game. It’s these little things that we’re not doing a great job of controlling. That’s these easy threes and these easy uncontested layups that we’re giving up. We limit that, and we’re in the ballgame.”
 

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