LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came into Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers facing elimination. Indiana was the toughest team that James has ever had to face in the first round and the Cavaliers as a whole simply weren’t able to match up well against the Pacers.
Despite the matchup issues and facing elimination, the Cavaliers were able to knock the Pacers off by a final score of 105-101. It was a close call, but James made sure that he didn’t allow his team to be eliminated in the first round.
As was the case throughout the majority of the series, James put together a masterful performance. He scored 45 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists in the game. James shot 16-for-25 from the field overall and knocked down 11 of his 15 foul shots as well.
Cleveland also saw Tristan Thompson make an impact after getting the start. He scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebound, while All-Star forward Kevin Love scored 14 points. J.R. Smith and George Hill were the only other Cavaliers in double digits with 11 points apiece.
All of that being said, what three things can the Cavaliers take away from their hard-fought victory over the Pacers in Game 7?
LeBron James' 45 points is the 2nd-most in a Game 7 win in playoff history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 29, 2018
2005 was the last time a team LeBron played for didn't make the Conference Semifinals pic.twitter.com/emshkW1iaT
LeBron James Needs Help
Beating the Pacers was a tough task for the Cavaliers, but the Toronto Raptors are a much better all-around basketball team. Cleveland is not going to beat the Raptors if the Cavaliers play like they did in the first round. James cannot be asked to do everything against Toronto and will need a lot more help from his teammates.
Tristan Thompson Must Continue Starting
Tyronn Lue made the decision to start Tristan Thompson in Game 7 and it might have saved their season. Thompson was a beast on the boards all game long and ended up scoring 15 points in the win. Moving forward, the Cavaliers must continue starting Thompson and allow him to play his game.
George Hill Might Just Be the Cavs’ X-Factor
When the Cavaliers acquired George Hill ahead of the NBA trade deadline, James and company knew how important he might become down the stretch of the season. After missing Games 4, 5, and 6, Hill returned to action in Game 7 and had a nice game off the bench. Not only did he have solid numbers, he also exhibited veteran leadership and played solid defense against the Indiana guards.
Expect to see the Cavaliers play better in the second round against the Raptors. Toronto may be a better team, but the Cavaliers will match up with them better. James and company aren’t going to have an easy road to the NBA Finals this season, but getting past the Pacers was a big sigh of relief.