Indiana Pacers 89 Cleveland Cavaliers 74
The Indiana Pacers move another game closer to that 10 game bar set by Lance Stephenson. They keep finding those ways to win, and last night proved that they could win without their starting point guard, George Hill, which is a good thing. That shows that guys can step up and even start in place of other guys and this team doesn’t miss a beat. C.J. Watson didn’t light the world on fire with his play, but he did play solid enough to help the Pacers continue winning, and that’s always a good thing. He finished the night with 7 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. That’s a stat sheet filler, which I always like to see. I know how important George Hill is to this team, and I thought last night he was due for a great game, but good to see that Watson performed well in his role. He’s a guy that many people were stating was a slight upgrade at the back up point guard, and hopefully he can prove those people right.
This was that type of game the Pacers were up most of the way, and they finished very strong in that fourth quarter. Each game has seen the team just put on that last gear for the final quarter. They put up 27 points in the fourth quarter of last night’s game, which follows in the previous fourth quarter totals of 36 points against the New Orleans Hornets and 28 points in the home opener against the Orlando Magic. If you want a team to show that they’re ready to go, that final quarter is the test for me. Even when the Pacers faltered a bit at the end of the third, and allowed the Cavaliers to get as close as 7 points, I didn’t feel like this game would be in doubt. The Pacers had a lead of 18 at one point, and if they were able to keep that going, they probably even win this game by more than the 15 point total at the end. But still finding that way to keep the pressure on is the biggest thing to take away from this one.
You could also see some of the strengths coming back for the Pacers as they outrebounded the Cavaliers 51-37. These players are just able to get their hand on the ball when it comes to rebounds, and can always seem to grab the board or tip it out to another player. Every guy seems to crash the boards, which is a great thing as well. If that continues, this team will be in great shape as they can use that to their advantage.
Paul George continues his strong play with another 20 point effort. 21 points and 13 rebounds is a fine effort for George. I would even say that he was very vocal on the court, in that leadership role. I’ve talked before about what guys need to step up in that regard, and it looks like George is ready for that step. I love seeing that, and if George continues this impressive play, we’ll see another All Star bid for him.
3-0 is nice, and things will get interesting next week as the Pacers play two back to back games with some divisional foes in the way. They head to Detroit on Tuesday, come home Wednesday for the date with the Chicago Bulls, home again for a game with the should be more improved Toronto Raptors, and then head out to Brooklyn for the new look Brooklyn Nets. That’s going to be a tough week to get through, but it should set the bar for what this team can do. I would say going even in those games would be impressive enough for me.