We all knew this would be how it went down.
The Cavaliers’ Game 4 106-102 victory was just a formality. While the rest of the first round matchups turn into dog fights the Warriors and Cavaliers have turned into live practices. No matter what danger the Pacers put the Cavs in things never seemed to be going the Pacers’ way. LeBron James is already a handful himself. Throw in a strong performance from the bench and Kyrie Irving? Game over.
This was the shortest chapter of the league’s greatest rivalry since Bird vs. Magic, LeBron vs. Lance. There were few fireworks and no meme worthy moments like there were when LeBron was back in Miami. This version of LeBron–which will go down as his best season if it ends with a ring–does not have time for Lance’s petty games. He’s just here to win.
Lance was pretty damn good in the final game (22 points (4-of-9 from three), six rebounds and three assists). Myles Turner and Jeff Teague also contributed to the cause, but ironically enough Paul George was the one who struggled. George shot 5-of-21 from the field including a crucial miss from three in the closing minutes.
Despite George’s rough day the supporting cast showed up. Teague and Turner combined for 35 points. Turner in particular had his best game of the series, shooting 80-percent from the field. The solid support allowed the Pacers to grab a 102-100 lead with a minute to go. Then LeBron hit a dagger and ripped their hearts out.
LeBron was his usual self–33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, 4 steals and two blocks–and took this game over leading the second unit to start the second quarter. Deron Williams was big off the bench (14 points on the night) providing some scoring while Kyrie Irving got warmed up.
In the third Kyrie not only warmed up, but caught fire. He scored 16 points in the third and 28 overall. The final leg of the big three, Kevin Love was still unable to find his shot. He only scored five points, but found a way to make an impact on the boards. Love cleaned the glass for 16 rebounds (including a couple crucial ones in the final minutes) who along with Tristan Thompson helped the Cavs win the battle of the boards.
For the Cavs they wait to see if they will rematch last year’s Eastern Conference Finals with the Raptors or take on the challenge of the young Bucks. LeBron played a ton of minutes this series (43.3 minutes per game) and a battle with Giannis Antetokounmpo might be on the horizon. If that is the case LeBron’s minutes will stay high which means every possible rest day must be taken.
As for the Pacers, this sweep could mean many things. Paul George will enter the final year of his contract and trade speculation will no doubt be there all season. Does team president Larry Bird make one final run or start thinking about getting a return on his George investment. The Celtics could sure use George. The Lakers and George share an affection for one another. Pat Riley and the Heat are always lurking.