When the Cleveland Cavaliers rested 12-time NBA All-Star LeBron James on Sunday night for the Cavs’ game against the Washington Wizards, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were unable to lead their team to victory. With James expected to return to the lineup tonight as Cleveland hosts Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, the defending Eastern Conference champions will look to extend their lead in the East and end their losing streak at just two games.
As ESPN recounted, the Cavs managed to blow a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead with just five minutes left in the game on Friday night. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry had a career-high 43 points, including the final points that brought Toronto to a two-point lead, as the Raptors went on to win their 10th consecutive game at home. After allowing Toronto to score nine unanswered points in a matter of 90 seconds, Cleveland had the ball as the final seconds ticked from the game clock. LeBron missed a three-pointer that would have won the game for the Cavs.
As the Cavaliers prepare for their game against the Pacers, their lead in the Eastern Conference has been cut to just two games over the Raptors. While Indiana remains second in the Central Division, they trail Cleveland by 10.5 games and are ranked just sixth overall in the Conference. Since the Raptors won two of the three games against the Cavaliers this season, the No 1. seed will be awarded to Toronto in the event of a tie at the end of the regular season.
On Sunday night, as coach Tyronn Lue decided to rest King James, the Washington Wizards handed the Cavaliers one of the most embarrassing losses of the season. The Cavs trailed by as many as 30 points, as ESPN notes, and all four of the regular starters — Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and J.R. Smith — were benched mid-way through the third quarter. Cleveland will get a chance to make up for the 14-point loss in Washington, D.C., as the Wizards travel to Cleveland for another game on Friday.
So far this season, the Indiana Pacers have failed to win a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both games were very competitive, however, and the same can be expected tonight. When Cleveland hosted Indiana in November, the Cavs squeaked by with a 4-point win. When they traveled to Indianapolis at the beginning of this month, Irving had 25 points in a 5-point overtime victory.
Along with LeBron returning to the Cavs’ active roster tonight, Cleveland will have the services of two men who weren’t on the team for the first two match-ups against Indiana. As part of a three-team trade that sent Anderson Varejao to the Golden State Warriors, the Cavs acquired Channing Frye. Having played just four games since joining Cleveland, Frye is averaging 4.8 rebounds and 5.0 points per game for the Cavaliers, while averaging just over 15 minutes of playtime.
Suiting up for the first time (wearing number 12) as a Cleveland Cavalier will be D-League All-Star Jordan McRae. McRae just signed a 10-day contract with the Cavs.
As they come into Cleveland tonight, Indiana will also be trying to bounce back from a two-game losing streak. They dropped a home game to Charlotte by one point on Friday night and then lost in Portland by nine on Sunday. The fourth and final regular season game between the Pacers and Cavaliers is in Indianapolis on April 6.
Where to watch
The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers will be televised tonight on FOX Sports. The game can also be viewed by anyone with a subscription to NBA TV. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central, live from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]