Running thoughts: R1G5 – Cavaliers 98, Pacers 95

Victor Oladipo, Cleveland Cavaliers, Pacers, 2018 NBA Playoffs

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 98-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

It was game 5 of their best-of-seven first-round series. The Cavs lead, 3-2.

  • Back spasms kept George Hill out for the second consecutive game. [Click here to ready my Q&A with the Indy native.]
  • Pacers followed their game plan early on. After turning it over twice on the first three possessions, then they settled down and went on an 11-2 run. Nine of their first 10 shots were near or inside the lane.
  • The Cavaliers scored the final eight points in the opening stanza, but it was the Pacers with a two-point edge. LeBron had 14 of Cleveland’s 23 points. But he needs help from everyone else, which combined to shoot 3 for 15 in the first 12 minutes.
  • Lance was rolling, in a nice groove as the facilitator. Would’ve liked for them to leave him out there as he contributed seven points, three assists, and zero turnovers in 10 minutes.
  • LeBron is doing it all himself, but how long can he last? He’s 9 for 11 with 41 percent of Cleveland’s points at intermission. Starters Jose Calderon and JR Smith added nothing (0 for 6).
  • Domantas Sabonis picked up where he left off in Game 4, when he scored 19 points. The confidence is there, as are the clean looks inside. He had 12 at half, matching the Cavs’ bench scoring.
  • LeBron, in desperation mode, locked in and there’s no stopping him. This is where it’s imperative to stop everyone else, especially Kyle Korver.
  • Out of the half, the Pacers struggled to get into their offense. They’ve become too predictable, consistently running a high pick-and-roll with Oladipo. Third quarters have plagued the Cavaliers all season, but they opened with a 9-0 run — which extended to 21-4 and gave Cleveland its largest lead of 10.
  • The Pacers, meanwhile, have cost themselves. Six turnovers to one field goal in the first half of the third quarter. And Myles Turner was called for his fourth foul.
  • Pacers’ struggles extending to the foul line where they’ve left five points on the board while the Cavs made their first 21 attempts.
  • Lance Stephenson buried a much-need triple as the third period expired. Despite being doubled up (32 to 17) and yielding 15 foul shots, the Pacers were only down by eight through three quarters. They had more turnovers (7) than field goals (5) during that 12-minute stretch after not one turnover in the second quarter.
  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, Pacers, 2018 NBA Playoffs

    LeBron dominated Game 5 by himself, hitting a game-winning three-pointer.

    LeBron continued to feast inside and at the free throw line (15/15). Would like to see the Pacers play off him a bit and make him hit a few jumpers.

  • Pacers continued to shoot themselves in the foot. In a six-point game, they turned it over on back-to-back possessions.
  • Pacers scored six in a row to knot the game at 95 with 33.6 seconds left. Oladipo had a great look at a layup, but it was blocked off the glass by LeBron. After watching it over and over again, it sure looked like goaltending. [Click here to judge for yourself.]
  • Then, even better, LeBron got the ball, dribbled twice to the top of the arc, and buried an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired. He was brilliant (44-10-8) with his 101st career playoff double-double, second all-time to Michael Jordan.
  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan wasn’t sure whether it was goaltending or not and did not ask for a review. He then expressed his disappointment postgame for not using their foul to give or a timeout in the final seconds.
  • It’s not reviewable anyways, according to the NBA Rule Book. The officials cannot go to the monitor for possible goaltending calls.
  • Oladipo: “It was a goaltend. It’s hard to even speak on it, it just sucks. … It really sucks that they missed that but we can’t do anything about that now.”
  • His teammates poured water on him afterwards in celebration.
  • Of note: Winner in Game 5 of in a best-of-seven series has won the series 83 percent of the time.
  • Sabonis led the Pacers in scoring for the second consecutive game with 22 points.
  • It was a rough night for the Pacers’ backcourt: Collison (4 points) and Oladipo (12) combined to shoot 3 for 18 from the field.
  • Kyle Korver: 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from distance, plus six rebounds — which is a bonus. He’s scored in double figures in all three of Cleveland’s wins.
  • Neither team has won back-to-back games this series. The Pacers have been right there, but not played clean enough basketball to get it done. Margin of their three losses: 3, 4, 3.
  • Up next: The series returns to Indianapolis for Game 6 on Friday night. All fans at the game will receive a gold “TOGETHER” t-shirt.

[Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

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