CLEVELAND – After two close losses to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference playoffs, should the Pacers be more encouraged or discouraged? An 0-2 hole is going to be tough to overcome against LeBron James and the defending NBA Champs, but the Pacers are oh so close to getting over the proverbial hump.
“We’re confident, and we should be confident,” Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan said after Game 2. “We had a bad 3rd quarter where I thought we lost our composure, and we fought our way back into the game once again.”
Losing the first two in Cleveland should come as no surprise. Indiana has the worst road record of all 16 NBA playoff teams, while the Cavs have the second most home wins in the league. The frustrating part is how close the Blue & Gold were to stealing one – if not both – of these first two.
Thad Young summed up the good and the bad succinctly in the post game locker room Monday night. “We’re extremely frustrated because we haven’t won a game, but we can take some positives from the games we’ve played.”
The Pacers have played a total of 8 games in the month of April including the regular season and playoffs. 5 wins, 3 losses. All 3 of those L’s have come at Cleveland, but all have gone down to the wire. In fact, the total margin in those 3 games is just 12 points; and one of those was a double overtime thriller.
The competitive nature of the series comes as no shock to the Indiana players.
“We believed that before we got here,” says forward CJ Miles. “We thought that before we got here, and I think that’s evident. We just gotta be able to make some plays down the stretch.”
But a loss is still a loss. LeBron is 11-0 all-time in first round playoff series, and is halfway to making it 12-0. LBJ teams have also never lost a series when taking a 2-0 lead.
All-Star Paul George says any chance of a comeback will start on the defensive end of the floor. “They (the Cavaliers) are shooting with no one in front of them off of a kick ahead. We’re just doing a terrible job of getting back and guarding people.”
The Pacers have been good over the last 2 weeks, but not as good as the Cavaliers.
They need to be better in Game 3 Thursday night, or their postseason run will be over almost as quickly as it began.