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Tale of the Tape: Pacers vs Cavaliers

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 16: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 16, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – To be the best, you have to beat the best and the Pacers don’t have to wait very long to get the chance this postseason.

Five straight wins to close out the regular season earned the Blue and Gold the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and a first round match-up with Cleveland.

You know, the Cleveland Cavaliers…the defending NBA champions…the team with LeBron James. The Cavs lost their final four games of the season to slip to the 2 seed, but don’t let that losing streak fool you.  LeBron and Kyrie Irving didn’t play in the last two games against Miami and Toronto.

The Pacers however are red hot, Paul George in particular. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week has been almost unguard-able (by his own admission) during this final playoff push. Over the last six games, PG has averaged 32.8 points per contest including 43 in the Pacers last meeting with Cleveland.

That double overtime thriller on April 2 was the last game Indiana lost. It was also the first game back in a Pacers uniform for Lance Stephenson.  “Born Ready” as he’s called, has provided an intangible spark for this team that needed to win its final five games to make the postseason and finish with a winning record of 42-40.

Unfortunately, history is not on Indiana’s side in match-ups against LeBron James in the playoffs.  The Pacers have never won a postseason series against LBJ (0-3).  All of those were when James was in Miami, but you get the point.

This season, the Pacers lost three out of four meetings with the Cavs and their lone win came back in November in a game that LeBron sat out.

It’s been a great run for the Pacers down the stretch, but I think this is the end of the line. The Cavaliers are tough to beat at home (31-10), and their stars will be well-rested. In addition, the Pacers have struggle mightily on the road with a record of just 13-28.

I expect Paul George to continue to play at an elite level and perhaps some shenanigans from Stephenson, but I can’t pick Indiana to win this series.

I’m calling it Cleveland in 5.