Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/22/18
Indiana have unexpectedly opened up a 2-1 lead against the Cavs. Will Cleveland square the ledger, or can the Pacers open up a potentially unassailable series lead?
The Cavaliers appeared poised to take a 2-1 series lead on Friday after earning themselves a 17 point lead at the main break, but the Pacers rallied to sneak home with a 92-90 victory. Bojan Bogdanovic was the star, scoring 30 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including 7-for-9 from long range, and playing solid defense on LeBron James.
At the other end of the floor, LeBron battled gallantly to post 28 points, 12 boards, and eight assists, but he didn’t have enough support. The only two other players to score in double figures for the Cavs were Kevin Love with 19, and George Hill with 13; though the latter scored nine of these in the first few minutes of the game.
Three keys to the game
The Pacers’ defense – So far, this has been a major reason for the 2-1 lead Indiana boast. They are conceding just 96.9 points per 100 possessions, an impressive number considering Cleveland scored 110.6 points per 100 possessions throughout the course of the regular season.
Can either side get their 3-point game going? – It hasn’t been a good series from beyond the arc for either of these sides. The Cavs are connecting on just 9.7 of their 31.3 attempts per game so far, a strike rate of 30.9%. Fortunately for them, the Pacers have been little better, going at just 32.9% from downtown in the first three games.
The Cavs’ inside game – Cleveland were around the league average for points in the paint through the regular season, scoring 44.2 points inside per game. In three games against Indiana in the post-season though, this number has been reduced to just 34.0. They must find more inside buckets if they want to work their way back into this series.
Matchup to watch
LeBron James vs Bojan Bogdanovic – Not only was Bogdanovic lauded for his extremely efficient 30 points in Game 3; his defense on the best player in the game also earned him plenty of praise. Heading into Game 4, this is the most important matchup on the floor.
James still scored 28 points on 10-for-22 shooting on Friday, but this was a far cry from what he is capable of – as shown in his 17-for-24, 46 point effort in Game 2. In the series, he is also averaging 11.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists, but it appears he may need to do even more considering the lack of help he has received from his teammates.
Bogdanovic, for his part, scored just 23 points through the first two games but showed how dangerous a shooter he can be in his 30 point performance in Game 3.
Indiana Pacers predicted starting lineup
PG – Darren Collison | SG – Victor Oladipo | SF – Bojan Bogdanovic | PF – Thaddeus Young | C – Myles Turner
Cleveland Cavaliers predicted starting lineup
PG – George Hill | SG – Kyle Korver | SF – JR Smith | PF – LeBron James | C – Kevin Love
Expect James to bounce back in a big way. We all saw what he can do when faced with adversity in Game 2, and it wouldn’t surprise to see him put in a similarly dominant performance. In his career, he has faced the Pacers a huge 54 times, and in this time he has averaged 27.4 points on 49.7% shooting, 7.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks.
The Pacers are slight favorites at home in this game, meaning the Cavs line of +1.5 looks very juicy. Indiana have been sensational in this series so far, but Cleveland have enough to top end talent to bounce back and win. Back them to cover the line.
Expect LeBron and the Cavs to come out of the blocks hard in this one, and it wouldn’t surprise to see them have built a reasonable lead by quarter time. Oladipo will bounce back from an uncharacteristically inefficient Game 3, but he won’t be the best player on the floor. LeBron will bring his A-game to put up a 35 point triple-double, and lead his Cavs to victory. They’ll tie the series with a 104-99 win on the road.
The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Tip-off is at 8:30pm ET.