Lebron James thinks Cavaliers are finally hitting their stride

Doyle BarkerApr 19, 2017

That's now 19 straight opening-round wins for the National Basketball Association team led by LeBron James.

Fourth-quarter leads continue to be a problem for Cleveland.

Never mind that the Cleveland Cavaliers almost blew another late double-digit lead in their 117-111 Game 2 victory over the Indiana Pacers to go up 2-0 in their Eastern Conference first-round series. His first points didn't come until after the halfway point of the third quarter. At some point in the playoffs, the team will find its groove and make its way through the East to meet the Warriors in the Finals. Stephenson had a strong workout with Cleveland in January before latching on with in, but coach Tyronn Lue said his recent injury issues - groin surgery and an Achilles issue - dissuaded the Cavs from signing him. "We'll figure it out".

The Cavaliers were up 18 points heading into the final quarter before the Pacers rallied to make it a competitive game.

"We're right there", said four-time league MVP LeBron James, who had 25 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and eight turnovers. Indeed, even if George launched more than the 19.5 shots per game he's averaging and even if Stephenson remained on his best behavior, the Pacers would still be saddled with fundamental match-up issues that will likely turn this into a quick series.

The Cavs and Pacers each have a few days off to prepare for Game 3 in Indiana.

Paul George had another nice game versus star rival James finishing with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Cleveland is 12-0 when starting 2-0 in the postseason.

Down 2-0 in the series, we'll see if George's comments can help Stephenson and the Pacers as they head to in for Game 3.

"I thought we lost our composure and got frantic out there", McMillan said of his team's third-quarter meltdown.

"Kyrie had a big quarter and we went to a matchup trying to cool him off. And that was big".

The Pacers regrouped, ripped off 13 straight points and were within 113-109 when George hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left.

"We're extremely frustrated", said Thaddeus Young. We know how good LeBron is going to be, we know how good Kyrie is going to be.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Memphis. Harden also had nine assists and seven rebounds, and Patrick Beverley had a playoff career-best 21 points along with 10 rebounds for the Rockets.

"This team has character, besides the talent and the desire to win", Spurs center Pau Gasol said. "First half we had 19 shots in the paint and had six free throws".

Leonard attempted more free throws than Memphis had as a team, which infuriated Fizdale.

It's where they won the game, outscoring the Pacers in the period, 33-20, and playing with more intensity on the defensive end as a result. I think we put Paul George on Kyrie and Lance moved to Love. They're not going to want to get burned by that. That's unacceptable. That's unprofessional. He made some big plays for us and that's a step in the right direction of being a consummate professional, especially being on a team like this. And we make plays down the stretch to win a ball game in the postseason, and that's all you can ask for.

Gasol buried the shot and it killed off the Grizzlies' run.

Tony Parker (15 points) and Danny Green (12) provided enough support for the brilliant Leonard. "Gotta stay ready. His number wasn't called in Game 1". Leonard made sure of that.

For the first time in franchise history the Cavs had 3 players score 25 or more points in a playoff game Monday night. Clippers guard Jamal Crawford is at.378 after going 4 for 12 in Game 1.

San Antonio had a 26-point lead in the first half on the strength of its outside shooting.

Milwaukee at Toronto, 6 p.m.

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