Can The Pacers Upset Lebron & The Cavs?
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Can The Pacers Upset Lebron & The Cavs?

The Dethroning of King James

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Can The Pacers Upset Lebron & The Cavs?
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In order to defeat Cleveland, Victor Oladipo and the Pacers will need to re-create their game 1 success in three areas.

This regular season, the Pacers have only played one national TV game - Paul George’s return to Indiana on December 13th, a 5 point win for the Thunder.

Game 1 of Round 1 against the Cavaliers showed a glimpse of what the Pacers have been like this season. The addition of Victor Oladipo has added toughness and they have the potential to be the surprise team of the postseason. Here’s what they did in game 1 and what they need to continue to do, to upset Lebron.

Push the Pace

Indiana fuels its offense with forcing turnovers, having the league’s fifth-best turnover rate. Whether it’s Collison’s passing prowess (he led the NBA in assist-turnover ratio—seriously), or Stephenson’s occasional miracle isolation baskets, or Sabonis cutting for a poster slam, the Pacers have managed to take advantage of holes and counterpunch against any adjustments opponents make. Oladipo was one of the NBA’s 15 best players this season, and the Pacers have a chance to win when he’s on the floor.

Exploit Kevin Love

Against the Cavalier’s poor defense (ranked 29th), the Pacers relentlessly attacked Kevin Love’s defense. Forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 14.3 points per game this season, isn’t the quickest player, but he’s capable of putting the ball on the floor, especially against slow defenders like Love. If the Cavaliers try hiding Love on defense by putting him on one of Indiana’s forwards—Thaddeus Young, or Trevor Booker—any of them could still screen for their ball handlers, Oladipo or Collison.

The Pacers gained their huge 20 point lead in the first quarter and Oladipo finished the game with 32 points, many of those points coming when Love was setting his screen. Oladipo was able to zip inside to the paint or fling a pass to the outside with supreme accuracy, They can’t have Love switch onto Oladipo, or he’ll get cooked. But even if LeBron or someone else is guarding Oladipo, he can still score buckets from all over the floor.

He’s been a killer from beyond the arc all season long. He’s hit five game-tying, go-ahead, or game-winning shots in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and in overtime. He’s clutch because he’s so potent (35.4 percent, to be exact) pulling up for 3s. Oladipo is streaky, but the highs are high, and right now he’s soaring.

Lebron Stoppers?

Going forward, forward Thaddeus Young could be a huge part of any adjustments the Pacers make; the veteran forward didn’t defend LeBron for a single possession in Game 1. But during the regular season, he was tasked with containing Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he played a significant role against Ben Simmons.

The Pacers could try putting Young on LeBron from the opening tip in Game 2 to throw a new challenge at the Cavs. Of course, teams need to be one step ahead in the playoffs, which is why coaching can be such a significant factor in team success.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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