CLEVELAND -- For the second straight postseason game, the Cleveland Cavaliers allowed a big lead over the Indiana Pacers to dwindle down to single digits instead of finishing off the route and resting their starters ahead of tonight’s Game 3 matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But despite the fourth-quarter woes, the Cavaliers’ top star, small forward LeBron James, is not worried about the struggles.
“We’re right there,” James said. “We’re right there of what we know we can become, and we’ll figure it out. I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all, and we made plays down the stretch to win a ballgame. In the postseason, that’s all you can ask for. We’re right there on turning the switch of what we really can become.”
The Cavaliers started the second quarter on an 8-0 run, and when James threw down a dunk after double-clutching the ball in mid-air, they pushed the lead over the Pacers out to double digits, 40-29. The run forced the Pacers to call a timeout.
In the second quarter, the Cavaliers got a lift from the long-distance shooting of point guard Deron Williams and backup power forward Channing Frye. Williams buried a pair of three-pointers in relief of Irving and Frye added a triple of his own that gave the Cavaliers a 13-point lead, 46-33, with 7:45 to play in the half.
“We’re playing some really, really good basketball,” James said. “In the first two quarters, we built a lead. We didn’t close out the second quarter as well as we would like to, but we have a chance. We have a chance to do something that we have been wanting to do all season, and that’s to put together a four-quarter game. We’re right there on the cusp of it.”
Coming out of the halftime break, the Cavaliers converted 11 of their 18 looks from the field in the third quarter and built an 18-point lead, 96-78, over the Pacers after 36 minutes of play in Game 2.
Although the Cavaliers knocked down only three of their nine attempts from three-point range in the quarter, point guard Kyrie Irving hit a heavily-defended step-back triple from the top of the key as the clock was winding down and put the lead back up to 18 heading into the final frame.
While Irving hit the final shot of the quarter, the Cavaliers made a concerted effort to reestablish power forward Kevin Love in the low post, and that plan worked well, as he scored 10 points and drew a handful of Indiana fouls on both ends of the floor.
Love hit a pair of shots and all six of his free-throw attempts over a two-minute stretch that helped the Cavaliers balloon the lead to 19, 89-70.
“It’s our offense,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I think we get tired at times. It’s playoff basketball, so they’re playing a lot of minutes and they’re competing. We don’t push the ball every, single possession when we get the chance. It’s not so much iso because we’ve got guys who can do that. It’s our turnovers. We’ve got to take care of the basketball.”