Overview: In a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated, the Indiana Pacers absolutely manhandled the Cleveland Cavaliers by making wide-open shots and looking like they wanted to play basketball. Joey Graham led the Cavalier starters with 11 points.
This is the kind of epic sucking a lot of people predicted from the LeBron-less Cavaliers. The Cavaliers could not have played worse offensively in the first quarter — Varejao and Hickson both look completely uncomfortable in half-court situations, and the Cavaliers didn’t seem to remember which jerseys they were wearing. The effort level wasn’t there, but at least the team wasn’t executing or making jumpers. Honestly, the only reason the Cavaliers made it to the second quarter with the Pacers leading by single-digits was because the Pacers missed seven threes, and most of them were wide open.
In the second quarter, the Pacers started making their shots, and that’s when things got ugly. The Cavaliers looked completely shocked every time the Pacers threw it to the other side of the court for a wide-open three. They had no answers for Darren Collison in transition. They didn’t step up on shooters at any point. Brandon Rush was riding a “holy crap, I just had an awesome game against the Heat” high and making every crazy shot he threw up, but everything else was way too easy.
84 of Indiana’s 100 came from the paint, the free-throw line, or beyond the arc. Hibbert scored all of six points. It’s one thing to have the Spurs do that to you, but to let the Pacers get any shot they want is embarrassing. This team is not talented enough to beat teams by trying to outscore them. They have to play like they know how to play defense, and want to play it. That should be priority one right now. Everything about that game was terrible.
If this team wants to run so badly, why is it playing the least athletic 1-3 combination in the league? Parker and Graham are nice enough players, but there’s no way they should be starting right now. If the team is going to play defense like this, there’s no reason not to start Mo alongside of Sessions or Boobie (or hell, why not all three?) and at least make teams adjust to them. Something needs to happen to prevent more performances like this.
Bullets of Randomness:
Josh McRoberts made more threes than the starters attempted.
Alright, that’s it. Four-game stretch coming up including games against the Celtics and Magic, then The Return. This would be a nice time for the Cavs to get it together a little bit. I know it’s only a three-game losing streak, and two of those games were against great teams, but this team has to compete if it wants to have success. That didn’t happen on Tuesday.