Game 6 of the Eastern Conference playoffs series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers is Friday night.
The Indiana Pacers could taste it. After trailing 81-73 after 3 quarters, the Pacers rallied in the 4th quarter (outscoring the Cavaliers 22-17) to tie the game with 33 seconds left. They then got the turnover to give them the chance at a victory. And then….Lebron James happened.
To add to his legacy, James came up with two huge plays to end game five, sending the Cavaliers to 3-2 advantage heading into game 6. The first play, with 3.3 seconds left, James had a huge block on the Pacer’s Victor Oladipo. The second one was the dagger. As time expired, Lebron hit a 3 pointer to give the Cavaliers the 98-95 victory.
The Pacers will now try to regroup and extend this 7 game series on Friday night. The Cavaliers (3-2) travel to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to take on the Pacers (2-3), with the opening tip off scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.
The spread for this game comes in at the Cleveland Cavaliers +1 and the Indiana Pacers -1. The over/under is set at 204 points.
Lebron James does what he always does and that is turn it on when the playoffs come around. This series, Lebron has averaged 34.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 8 assists per game. In Wednesday’s victory, he was even more impressive scoring 44 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. While he may not win the regular season Most Valuable Player Award, he is certainly playing like it now, and that may be enough to get the Cavaliers to the second round.
Aside from James, Kevin Love is the only other player averaging double-digit scoring.
He is currently averaging 11.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Kyle Korver is the next highest at 9.8 points per game. While it would be nice to get a big contribution from someone else, like the 19 points scored by Korver in game 5, it still ultimately boils down to Lebron.
One thing that could hurt the Cavaliers is whether George Hill will be able to play or not. After only playing in 3 games thus far this series, Hill is questionable for Friday night. While his role is diminished a little in the playoffs, where the Cavs like to have the ball in Lebron’s hands, he is still a valuable asset that will be missed if he is unable to go.
Victor Oladipo has played really well in this opening round series. He is currently averaging 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. While he has proven he is a star and that he can be counted on by the Pacers, the real question is whether he is ready to take the next step by putting his team on his back and taking over for the rest of the series. If game 5 is any indication, the answer might be no. Oladipo only scored 12 points in that game, and was outscored by two of his teammates. While the Pacers have a really strong supporting cast, sometimes the playoffs is about one guy taking over a game. I am not sure that the Pacers have that one superstar.
As mentioned, the Pacers have gotten contributions from others. In this opening round, they have gotten a nice series from Bojan Bogdanovic (14.8 points), Domantis Sabonis (11.6 points), Lance Stephenson (10.6 points), Myles Turner (13.4 points) and Thaddeus Young (11 points). While the balanced scoring is nice, the question still remains, who will close out the game for them?
I just think that the end of game 5 might have been too big of a blow to the Indiana Pacers to come back in game 6. I know they are playing at home, but I think Lebron James smells blood and will come out aiming to close this one out before it can get to a game 7. Take the Cavaliers +1.