Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers: Taking a closer look at Game 6

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 25: LeBron James
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 25: LeBron James /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are riding momentum into its Game 6 matchup against the Indiana Pacers, following LeBron James’ go-ahead 3 at the buzzer to win Game 5

LeBron James collected 44 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished eight assists- along with a game-saving block on Victor Oladipo the possession before his game-winner –  to bring his first-round series averages to 34.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and eight assists per game.

Despite LeBron’s major contributions, the Pacers have looked like the better team for a good part of the series. If not for a missed goaltending call on Oladipo’s Game 5 drive, and a miraculous shot from maybe the best player on the planet, the Pacers could be winning this series.

Instead, the Cleveland Cavaliers hold a 3-2 series lead and will have an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Game 6.

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And a big part of that is the Pacer’s defense, or maybe, the Cavs’ lack of offense.

Through five games, the Cavs have an offensive rating of 102.2. For comparison, in the regular season the Cavs had the fifth-highest offensive rating in the league, at 110.6, per

The Pacers offensive rating of 102 isn’t great either and is making the Cavs’ defense look better on paper than in reality.

The Pacers exploited the Cavs’ switching-scheme on defense in Game 5, feeding the ball to Myles Turner with a smaller defender on him out of the pick-and-roll and creating mismatches.

Blitzing Oladipo on pick-and-rolls already proved risky for the Cavs through the first four games of the series, as the Pacers quickly learned to pass out of the trap and play four-on-three against a scrambling Cavs defense.

The Cavs haven’t shown a defense this series that the Pacers couldn’t figure out.

This is the slowest series in the playoffs with 93.45 pace, per, which shrinks each teams’ margin for error. Misusing a possession at that pace is especially costly.

Also, the contrast in production from each teams’ supporting cast is jarring so far.

Besides LeBron, only Kevin Love is averaging above 10 points per game for the Cavs. Even Love’s production is lacking, as his average dropped to 11.8 points per game on 32.8 percent shooting for the series.

The Pacers have six rotation players averaging double-figures, which doesn’t include Darren Collison and Corey Joseph, who despite not scoring a lot, are still playing well and giving solid contribution at the point guard role.

This all goes to say: The Cavs have LeBron, and the Pacers have a team.

The Cavs had too many stints of poor offense this series, with or without LeBron on the court, to not be concerned. They can’t bank on missed calls and clutch game-winners getting them through the playoffs.

The Pacers have looked like a more complete team on a more consistent basis throughout this series but haven’t punished the Cavs’ defense as much as they could have.

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The Pacers have homecourt for Game 6, and the chance to force a Game 7 against a Cavs team that many people had winning the East this year.

LeBron may need more production from his team, or another miraculous performance to avoid dropping Game 6 to the Pacers and facing a first round Game 7.