The Cleveland Cavaliers allowed the Indiana Pacers to claw their way back into Game 1 and almost steal the thing. Here are five things to watch for in Game 2.
1. Defend the Land
Sounds obvious, right? Well, the Cavaliers came perilously close to losing Game 1 on their home court to one of the worst road teams in the NBA. Then again, they didn't lose Game 1. As LeBron said Monday morning, hours before Game 2, it doesn't matter if the Cavs win by 1 or 100 -- as long as they take care of business, especially at home.
2. By George, Keep Him Out of It
Paul George threw down 29 for the Pacers in Game 1, but he needed 31. George was unhappy and outspoken after the game about the Pacers' failure to get him the ball for the final shot. But there's a reason for that -- the Cavs doubled him and forced him to dish the ball to C.J. Miles. And the rest is history. That should obviously be the plan again tonight.
3. LeBron Leads The Way
It was interesting to watch LeBron get his teammates involved early in Game 1, making sure they set the tone offensively before he dialed it up himself. And dial it up he did, ending up with a game-high 32 points and 13 assists. If the Cavs can start the same way in Game 2, they should be able to build up a sizeable lead on the Pacers. Which brings me to...
4. Keep The Pedal Down
The Cavaliers allowed the Pacers to claw their way back into Game 1 and almost steal the thing. The good news, they've been here, many times before. A year ago they opened their playoff run with a 5-point win over the Pistons in Game 1, then came out and blew them away by 17 in Game 2. That's the kind of reaction we'd love to see from the Cavs tonight.
5. The Numbers Don't Lie
LeBron has never lost a first-round series. He's 11-0. And that's because his teams jump out early in a series. Not coincidentally, the Cavaliers have never lost a playoff series when leading 2-0. In other words, the pressure isn't on the Cavs tonight. It's on the Pacers.
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