The Cleveland Cavaliers will face off with the Indiana Pacers tonight in Game 3 of the First round of the playoffs.
Despite close encounters in the opening two games of the series at Quicken Loans Arena, LeBron James will feel confident heading to Indianapolis as their 2-0 lead stands them in good stead.
Paul George and the Pacers won’t go down without a fight however. CJ Miles was desperately close from stealing Game 1 when his last second jump shot clattered off the rim. Game 2 was also a close encounter, with the Cavs coming out victorious 117-111.
When questioned about Myles Turner‘s performance in game 2, George called out Turner and claimed he needed the sophomore center to step up if they have any chance of coming back in game 3. Turner finished with just 6 points and was 30% from the field in Game 2 at the Q:
“He needs to make himself available down low in the post. He needs to know at this point he has to take it to the next level. We’ll continue to work with him. … In this league, you’ve got to find it. He’s still young. He’s still learning, so it’s a good thing. We’re going to work with him.”
The 26 year old was also critical of veteran Lance Stephenson, who recently returned to the team in the hope of rejuvenating the squad before the playoffs. They came into the series with 6 wins in a row, but Stephenson has struggled against the Cavs, especially in Game 2 when he was dominated by Kevin Love. His emotions got the better of him and George was quick to call out Lance after the game:
“He’s got to learn to control himself and be in the moment,” George said (via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin). “Lance, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader. His body language has to improve — just for the team. … He’s got to channel that toward making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.”
The Cavs defence has been an ongoing issue for the second half of the season, and continues to be an issue in the opening round of the playoffs. Conceding 108 points in game 1, and 111 in game 2, head coach Tyronn Lue has all the reason to be concerned, as the current defensive scheme may be enough to edge through the opening rounds, but deeper into the post-season could be a significantly difficult task if there deference doesn’t improve.
For the time being however, LeBron and his loaded Cavs roster will be seeking a 3-0 lead tonight to extend their advantage in the series, all but ending the Pacers hopes of causing an upset.
Despite playoff Paul George having a monster series for Indiana, it just simply might not be enough to even steal a game.