It was an ugly game on both ends played by two teams on the back-end of back-to-backs, and it came down to which team was able to hold on the longest at the end. That team was the Indiana Pacers, who prevailed 82-78 over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both squads were tired from the night before, something that was obvious with their atrocious shooting numbers and the amount of fouls called. On the offensive end, Indiana shot 36.4 percent from the floor, while Cleveland wasn’t far behind at 34.2 percent. When it came to defense, both squads had a hard time keeping their man in front of them, which resulted in a total of 44 fouls called.
Before the game started, the Cavaliers were already handicapped as three of their regular players were missing from the rotation. Andrew Bynum was and is still dismissed from the team, Kyrie Irving is still reeling from a knee contusion he suffered during the last meeting with the Pacers, and his backup Jarrett Jack was scratched during warm-ups after coming down with back spasms.
The Pacers should have taken advantage of this, but they were unable to do so. In fact, Indiana even had trouble containing them in the end. C.J. Miles led the Cavaliers in the first half with 15 points and Dion Waiters was the second-half hero with 14 points. Indiana led by nine at halftime, but Cleveland cut it to one with 43 seconds left in the game.
They were unable to capitalize on the momentum, putting up some bad shots while the Pacers knocked down the free throws they needed to at the end.
Four Pacers starters finished in double figures with Paul George leading the way with 16 points. George Hill was the only starter not in double figures and finished with eight points. Danny Granger got a chance to show off his healthy knees by playing 26 minutes, something special because it was on a back-to-back, and scored 10 points.
Indiana did what they needed to do to pull out a hard-fought victory. Cleveland was playing with nothing to lose, something that makes a team very dangerous, but the talent the Pacers have was too much in the end. Now the Pacers have a day off before jumping into their third straight back-to-back series.