INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 1, 2016) – The Pacers four-game home stand comes to a close Monday night as the Blue and Gold will host the Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m.
“The conference champs are coming to town,” says Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, “so everybody’s gonna be a little bit up for that. Hopefully we bring great energy and play well.”
“It’s definitely a measuring stick,” adds Paul George. “We’re trying to take it to another level.”
Indiana (25-22, 7th East) enters off back-to-back wins after inserting rookie Myles Turner into the starting lineup at power forward. The most recent change for Cleveland (34-12, 1st East) was slightly more dramatic, as the organization fired head coach David Blatt midway through the season. Under new leader Tyronn Lue, the Cavs lost their first game, but have now rattled off four wins in a row, including a victory over the Spurs (39-8, 2nd West) two nights ago.
The Pacers have played numerous, memorable games against LeBron James-led teams, between Miami and Cleveland. The frequency and importance of those match ups, many in the playoffs, has led to a deep mutual respect between a pair of perennial All-Stars: James and Pacers forward Paul George.
“Just seeing his growth over the years has been great,” says James, “and seeing him back as an All-Star caliber player after the horrific injury, I think that’s even greater.”
“I look forward to the fun match ups, the big match ups,” says George. “(I’ve) just learned a lot, going up against him, playing the best. It’s a learning period, so it’s fun playing against LeBron.”
Monday night’s match up will be the second between the Pacers and Cavaliers this season. The first came back on November 8 in Cleveland. Though Indiana took a lead on a Monta Ellis three-pointer with four minutes to play, Cleveland fought back and held off a late rally to secure a 101-97 win. The rivals will square off twice more this season: February 29 in Cleveland and April 6 in Indianapolis.