CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers struggled to the finish line of the 2016-2017 regular season, especially through a difficult month of March, where they played 12 of their 17 games away from Quicken Loans Arena.
But the Cavaliers put the struggles behind them and fought their way to a 109-108 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1, and then, a 117-111 win in Game 2 of the opening round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easy to dismiss it or get it off your memory, but that’s the great part about this league and professional sports,” Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love said. “You have so many games coming at you so fast, so you have to have a quick memory, win or loss, and try to be better the next game. That’s the beauty of it. This team being very locked in is a very tough team to beat, and I think we’ll show that.”
Up by double digits after Kyle Korver hit a three-pointer on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers struggled on the defensive end of the floor in Game 1, and the Pacers fought their way back to a two-point lead with 3:31 to play in regulation.
However the Cavaliers outscored the Pacers, 6-3 over the final three minutes to close out the win in Game 1.
“It’s just a different level of brotherhood this time of year,” Love said. “We definitely have the group to do it, but it’s on us. We’ve got to go out there and play hard on both sides of the ball. If we do that, get our fans involved, get this city really behind us again, last year was magical for us. We’re hoping to create something, the same sort of feel.”
Before the start of the first-round series with the Pacers, Cavaliers small forward LeBron James spoke of playing with confidence, and that is exactly what he has done through the first two games.
James led the way for the Cavaliers with 32 points and 13 assists to go along with six rebounds in Game 2. James knocked down 12 of his 20 shots from the field, including two of his three looks from three-point range.
Then, in Game 2, James tallied 25 points and corralled 10 rebounds to go along with seven assists.
“I think through everything that went on with our team, we’re in a position where we can do something special still, and at the end of the day, I’m not one to harp on what happened in the regular season through injuries, through bad losses, through good wins, through whatever the case may be,” James said.
“We have a good club going into the postseason, and that’s all you can ask for.”