CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For weeks, even months, everyone has been waiting for the Cavs to flip the switch in their bid to repeat at NBA champions.
That flip could be coming soon according to LeBron James.
“We’re right there of what we know can become,” James said. “We’ll figure it out. I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. We make plays down the stretch to win a ball game, and in the post season that’s all you can ask for.
“We’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”
James, who was responsible for 8 of the the Cavs’ 19 turnovers Monday night, isn’t concerned even though they nearly blew yet another double-digit fourth quarter lead – this one 18 points – as they hung on for a 117-111 victory to take a 2-0 series lead over the Pacers.
While many concerns about the Cavs’ flaws continue to be expressed in the media, James clearly doesn’t share them. At least publicly.
“Uh, cuz we’re playing some really, really good basketball,” James responded.
For the first time in franchise history the Cavs had 3 players score 25 or more points in a playoff game Monday night. Kyrie Irving led everyone with 37 points, Kevin Love scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while James finished 3 assists shy of a triple double – 25 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists and the Cavs needed every one.
While the fact that the Pacers shot above 50 percent once again and beat the Cavs in the paint 46-42, in second chance points 11-7 or on the fast break 14-2, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue knows why they’ve come dangerously close to being down 0-2 instead of up 2-0, and it isn’t because of their suspect defense.
“It’s our offense,” Lue said. “I think we get tired at times. It’s playoffs, guys are playing a lot of minutes and they’re competing. And we don’t push the ball every single possession when we get a chance.”
Turnovers are killing the Cavs.
The Pacers have been able to score 43 points off of 30 turnovers in the first 2 games combined while the Cavs have done little to cash in on their opportunities scoring just 27 points off of 27 Indiana turnovers.
“We have to take care of the basketball,” Lue bemoaned. “When we turn the basketball over, we can’t get back. It hurts us.
“It’s hard to win playoff games like this.”
Although the Pacers have come up short twice while trying to come from behind late, they have reason to feel optimistic as the series shifts to Indianapolis for Game 3 Thursday.
“It’s you guys writing us off that this game is going to be easy for the Cavs,” Pacers forward Paul George, who scored 32 points, said. “We take away some of these easy baskets we’re giving up and these games might be a little different. Every point in the game we know we’ve got a chance to come back, even when we’re down big. We know we’ve got an opportunity to clamp down and make baskets and get ourselves back in the game.
“It’s these little things that we’re not doing a great job of controlling. That’s these easy threes and these easy uncontested layups that we’re giving up. We limit that, and we’re in the ballgame.”
On paper the Cavs should be able to run the Pacers out of the gym but this series is a lot closer than the 2-0 lead they currently enjoy.
James and the Cavs have the luxury of not agonizing over their mistakes while George and the Pacers will try to dig out of another hole and attempt to make it a series.
It would behoove the Cavs to find that switch and flip it before better competition arrives in the conference semifinals or the lights might get turned out on them.