5 things to watch for in Game 3 of the Cavs/Pacers series - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

5 things to watch for in Game 3 of the Cavs/Pacers series

(Source: WOIO) (Source: WOIO)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WOIO) -

The funniest moment of Monday night came in the Cavaliers locker room about 30 minutes after the Game 2 win. I was asking Channing Frye how the defending champs had let another double-digit lead dwindle in the fourth quarter before pulling it out again, and over the pack of reporters behind me came the voice of Richard Jefferson: "We didn't win by enough again!?"

It was a light moment, and though RJ was making a point, so was I.

The Cavs may be playing great basketball at times, as LeBron said during his post-game presser, but they're also falling into their bad habit of allowing a lesser team to make it more difficult than it has to be.

That won't catch up with them in this series. But it could down the road.

Here are five things to watch in Game 3 on Thursday:

1)  Keep The Pedal Down

During their 2016 title run the Cavs lost only one Game 3, in Toronto in the Conference Finals (they'd lose Game 4 as well). David Griffin would later tell me (after their Game 7 win in the Finals) that those two losses to the Raptors were key to their run, as it tested them. They will be tested again on Thursday night, because they've allowed the Pacers to believe this series is closer than it actually is. This won't be the Cavs' ultimate test in these playoffs, but it's a start.

They can slam the door on Indy with a definitive win. 

2) Road Warriors

The Cavaliers have proven that they can win anywhere.

If you can win a Game 7 at Oracle Arena against the record-setting defending NBA champions, you can win anywhere. And LeBron has said it time and time again: he actually prefers playing on the road in front of hostile crowds. He'll get his wish again in Game 3. Look for him to have a mammoth night to quiet them down. 

3) Coaching Showdown

Tyronn Lue vs. Nate McMillan.

Let's face it, Lue has a lot more to work with, but he is also smart enough to exploit some serious mismatches in this series (Jeff Teague guarding LeBron?). The most obvious mismatch came when the Pacers put Lance Stephenson on Kevin Love in the third quarter of Game 2. Love went off, rattling off 10 straight points and causing Stephenson to melt down. It'll be interesting to see what the Pacers can do in Game 3, if anything.

4)  By George, He's Great

Which makes Iman Shumpert's defensive job on Paul George in Game 2 that much more impressive. Shump didn't get off the bench in the series opener, found out as halftime ended in Game 2 that he was replacing an injured J.R. Smith, and went out and held George, a tremendous player, to 14 second half points.

But George is a special player. He's one of those guys I'd love to have on our team. It's unfortunate for him that it must feel like 1-on-7 at times. 

5)  Stay Offensive

The challenge with having so many weapons is feeling the need to constantly utilize them. The Cavaliers can let LeBron, Kyrie, or Love loose at any time and beat almost anybody.

But there has to be more consistency down the stretch. They're far too good to look off-balance offensively.

Again, it's almost impossible to imagine things going south in this series. But the championship habits must start now.

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