INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Paul George isn’t the only Pacer the Cavaliers are worried about going off as they prepare to tip off their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series Saturday.
C.J. Miles, who played for the Cavs from 2012-2014, has feasted on his former team this season averaging 17 points per game in 4 meetings including a 27-point effort that saw him hit 5 3s in a 135-130 double overtime loss to the Cavs on April 2 at Quicken Loans Arena.
“He’s a Cavs killer,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “Every time he sees us he plays well, so we got to do a good job of being really locked into him, knowing where he’s at, at all times and try to take him out of the series.”
Miles averages 10.7 points per game with a 43.4 shooting percentage – 41.3 percent from 3 – but against the Cavs those numbers jump to 56 percent from 3 and 61.7 percent from the field.
George leads the Pacers in scoring averaging 23.7 points a game while shooting 46 percent from the field. He dropped 43 on the Cavs and finished a rebound and assist shy of a triple double in that same double-OT loss earlier this month.
That performance had Lue dissecting game film for hours in preparation for Game 1 Saturday.
“Paul George is a great player but he made some tough shots,” Lue said. “He made some tough shots and he’s capable of doing that. We’re going to have to give him some of those shots because all great players can make those shot. We just gotta take away his easy baskets, easy layups getting to the basket.”
Just a few years ago George’s basketball future was in doubt after he suffered a compound fracture during a USA Basketball scrimmage. Some thought his career might be over.
“There were a lot of people saying he would never get back to what he was before and doing the things that he was before,” LeBron James, who is 3-0 in the playoffs against George, said. “It’s great to see as a competitor and as a friend. He someone that I’ve had a lot of great playoff series with and great conversations with, to see him back to here he needs to be.”
George recovered, won a gold medal with team USA and is back to the dominating force he was prior to the injury. Knocking off LeBron James and the defending NBA champions would make quite the statement about his comeback.
“He has something to prove which is very understandable,” guard Kyrie Irving said.
The Cavaliers are trying to forget about another turbulent regular season that saw them finish as the No. 2 seed in the east following a late season nosedive that saw them lose 14 of their last 24 games.
The defending champions are as healthy as they’ve been all year as they look to recapture that chemistry they developed a year ago en route to the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
“We’ve got to go out there and play hard on both sides of the ball,” forward Kevin Love said. “If we do that, get our fans involved, get the city really behind us again, I think it could be (as good as 2016). Last year was magical for us. We’re hoping to create the same sort of feeling.”