Pacers ready for playoff rematch with Cavaliers

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 15: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives around Lance Stephenson #6 of the Indiana Pacers during the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 15, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Pacers will meet LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Playoffs for the second straight season.  Cleveland swept Indiana last year, but all four games were competitive, decided by six points or less.

The Pacers gave a solid all-around effort in game one in 2017.  Indiana clawed back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and had a chance to win, but C.J. Miles’ jumper was off the mark and the Cavaliers had an early series lead.

“The games at Cleveland, I just remember how intense it was,” said Pacers guard Glenn Robinson III.  “It came down to last second shots and last second possessions.  I look at this year’s team in late game situations when the game is on the line and we have multiple guys who can step up and knock those shots down.”

In game two, Cleveland led by 18 in the fourth, but the Pacers rallied again.  Paul George cut it to four.  They’d get no closer and the Cavs took a 2-0 series lead.

“We had our chances to close games out and potentially win games,”  Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said.  “We just couldn’t get ourselves over the hump with just two or three plays down the stretch.  I feel very confident that we can this year.”

The scene shifted to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for game three.  It looked like the Blue and Gold might climb back into the series.  They built a 25-point halftime lead, before James took charge.  “The King” scored 41 points.  The Cavaliers owned the third-largest comeback in playoff history and a commanding 3-0 series edge.

“We were in all three of those games,” said Pacers center Al Jefferson.  “Especially game three at home when we had the big lead.  I just think it’s a different team.  If we find ourselves in that position in crunch time, we’ll be a totally different team with a totally different mindset.”

Game four was back and forth.   Young put Indiana on top late with a tip-in.  James then hit a three-pointer to give the Cavs the lead back.  George had a chance to tie the game, but his last shot in a Pacers’ uniform was no good and an offseason of major change began.

“It’s a new year for us,” Pacers guard Victor Oladipo said.  “We’re starting over.  We look forward to the opportunity come Sunday.  It’s going to be a very interesting series.”

Game one for the playoff rematch tips-off Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

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