The Indiana Pacers had a 26-point lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night and it looked like we were in for quite the series in the East’s 2-7 matchup. We’d already seen the Pacers hang with the Cavs in Cleveland and now they were holding serve with style at halftime, up 74-49.
And then LeBron James happened. James led a furious comeback by the Cavs that tied the largest in NBA playoff history. The Cavs scored 70 second half points on their way to a 119-114 win, with James having 28 of those second half points on his way to a 41-point triple-double. Suddenly, the narrative had flipped from “the Pacers can make this a series” to “will the Cavs sweep.” This loss wasn’t just any loss, it was demoralizing, losing that kind of lead at home when you were already so close to a win in Game 1.
The Pacers could, very realistically, be up 2-1 in this series, but find themselves down 0-3 and facing elimination on Sunday. Point guard Jeff Teague, who is 0-11 in his career in the playoffs against the Cavs dating back to his Hawks days, is confident that Indiana will, at the least, force the series back to Cleveland.
“We’re playing for pride now,” Teague said in his post-game scrum. “We’re all competitors in here and we all believe in one another. We ain’t getting swept. We got pride and we ain’t getting swept so we’re going to move on and come out ready to play.”
It’s got to be tough for the Pacers to know how tantalizingly close they’ve been in two games, only to now have to answer questions about being swept. Obviously, you can’t expect Teague to say anything different, but with the way the Cavs offense is rolling and LeBron is playing, it’s going to be tall order for the Pacers to live up to Teague’s statement.
(h/t Sporting News)