Cleveland closes out Indiana

Cleveland-Indy Game 7
After getting blasted in game 6 at Indiana by 34 points, Cleveland likely hoped that game would fade from memories like a Friday news dump. LeBron James and Tristin Thompson carried the Cavaliers to a 54-41 halftime lead, but the team only scored four points in the first 4:48 of the second half as the Indiana Pacers went on a 16-4 spree to take the lead by one, 59-58 with 7:12 remaining in the 3rd period.

A Cleveland timeout didn’t stop the bleeding, as George Hill turned the ball over at half court after a poor play by Kevin Love, leading to two more at the line by Indiana before JR Smith stopped the Cleveland drought with a 3-pointer from the right side to get even at 61. Victor Oladipo continued to impress for Indiana, scoring on back-to back plays; for three points as the shot clock ran out, then driving to the basket for two, while James scored 10 straight for the Cavaliers in the 3rd period before leaving for a rest with 1:00 on the clock.

James scored 38 of Cleveland’s 76 points through three quarters, followed by Thompson with 14, and Smith’s 9 points, but started the 4th quarter with a turnover while James went to the locker room to manage cramping and continued to recover; appearing to check in with 9:41 remaining, and the Cavaliers up by 8 after Love’s 3-pointer; but returning to the bench for more rest after an Indiana timeout.

Playing the last 8:25, James got much needed scoring help from Love and Hill, but the team did little to contain Oladipo who finished with 30 points. Cleveland fouls put Indiana in the penalty with 5:18 remaining; however, Miles Turner’s foul rebounding against Smith with 4:33 left took him out of the game for good! A missed shot clock violation at the 1:30 mark allowed Indiana to score two at the line before James was called for an (truly) offensive foul after no call and lots of contact by both teams on the rebound.

Cleveland needed nearly 44 minutes, 45 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals from James to win game 7, but got respectable contributions from Love, 14 points, Thompson 15 points 10 rebounds, and Hill and Smith with 11 points each. The Cavaliers will need strong performances again to get off to a good start against a rested, and underrated Toronto team that earned the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors host Game 1 Tuesday at 8 p.m.