INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Another close game with the defending NBA champs, another close loss.
The Indiana Pacers had a great opportunity to save their season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but a Paul George three-point shot missed the rim and the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated Indiana in four gut-wrenching playoff games, 106-102.
“This season has been very frustrating,” said George, who finished with 15 points but struggled from the field. “But every year isn’t a golden year. There’s going to be some ups and downs in a career and I’ve learned that.”
Head coach Nate McMillan thinks the team improved from the start, but it didn’t register in wins and losses.
“We’re better than a .500 team,” said McMillan. “And I thought we played .500 basketball all season long. Really, we want to learn a lesson from Cleveland. They’ve been through this before, they know how to finish things out.”
In game one, C.J. Miles missed a potential game-winning open jumper in Cleveland. Indiana blew a 26-point lead at the Fieldhouse in game three and in game four, the Pacers rallied from 13 down in the 4th quarter, took the lead and let it slip away.
“It sucks,” said guard Jeff Teague, an Indianapolis native and Pike high grad who said he wants to stay and play for his hometown team despite entering into free agency this summer. “They’re a good team and at the end, a bounce here and a bounce there went their way.”
Lance Stephenson, who was the Pacers best player in game four with 22 points and 6 rebounds knew his team gave the champs a battle.
“It was a fight every game. They didn’t have one easy game, but every time we threw a punch, they threw one right back, and that’s why they won.”
Expect the Pacers to make some changes in the off-season. Paul George has another year before he can opt out of his contract and could get a financial windfall if he makes an all-NBA team.
When asked about how that could affect his future in Indiana, the only NBA team he’s known, PG said stay tuned.
“I’m not even at that point yet. Next Question.”