For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 4 of their best-of-seven series against the Indiana Pacers could be a do or die situation. The Cavaliers currently trail the Pacers 2-1, with Game 4 in Indianapolis. They cannot afford to lose.
The betting odds for Game 4 currently lists the Cavaliers as one-point favorite, according to CBS Sports. That is a clear sign of the tide turning a bit on the Cavaliers.
A loss to the Pacers would not only force the Cavaliers to claw back, facing up to three consecutive elimination games, but could send them into a panic. One of the Pacers’ stars, Lance Stephenson, believes the Cavaliers are already starting to panic, according to ESPN.
“We have full control right now. We have to keep it. We get another win in our building, and that’s when I think they’re going to start panicking. We’re going to bring it like we [brought] it the first game.”
The Indiana Pacers have been in complete control during certain stretches of their series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whenever the Cavaliers grab a huge lead and the Pacers seem out of it, somehow the young upstarts find their way back in the game.
Perhaps a missed three-point shot by Victor Oladipo in the closing seconds of Game 2 is the difference in the Pacers being ahead 3-0. If Oladipo had made the shot, it likely would have forced overtime. The Cavaliers had all but lost their momentum after squandering a double-digit fourth quarter lead.
The theme of this first-round series is clear — the Cleveland Cavaliers have been pushed around by a younger, more athletic Indiana Pacers team. It is the same team that was dominant in Game 1.
Victor Oladipo was masterful in two of the first three games. Lance Stephenson, thus far one of the Pacers’ an unsung heroes, has done well playing transition defense and making LeBron James work for his shots.
Despite averaging a near triple-double for the series, LeBron James has not been able to pull the Cavaliers ahead, while doing most of the heavy lifting.
It is the Indiana Pacers’ plan to make James do absolutely everything, while silencing his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates. The strategy has worked in the Pacers’ favor, allowing Oladipo and Stephenson to beam with confidence.
The Cavaliers can bounce back and tie the series. However, in order to do so it will take someone other than LeBron James to step up.
The Indiana Pacers have played stifling defense. They could counter with Lance Stephenson defending someone other than LeBron James. That may thwart anything the Cleveland Cavaliers try to do on offense outside of James. There is sure to be some panic on the Cavaliers’ part if the Pacers are successful.