Confident Pacers eager to protect home court against Cavs
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers look loose and sound confident.
They were laughing, smiling and joking around at practice Thursday as turned to a new task — protecting their home court this weekend against LeBron James.
Sure, his sensational 46-point, 12-rebound effort in Game 2 exposed flaws in Indiana’s defense and allowed Cleveland to even the series, but it sure didn’t shake the faith of the fearless Pacers.
“It’s a good sign when you lose by three and the best player in the world has a game like that,” Indiana point guard Darren Collison said.
The Pacers shouldn’t be rattled.
They are 4-2 against the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs this season, fought back from an early 18-point deficit Wednesday with Victor Oladipo in foul trouble and still had a chance to tie the score on Oladipo’s wide-open 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.
They still can seize control of the series by winning the next two in Indianapolis.
To avoid such a plight, the Cavs could give their star player some help — or they will need more command performances from The King.
But finding a stronger supporting cast Friday night in Game 3 could be potentially problematic with Kevin Love trying to play through an injured left thumb. Love, who is right-handed, said X-rays of the hand were negative even though he sat out the final 3 1/2 minutes of Game 2 as the Pacers continued to close the deficit.
“He’s great, yes sir,” coach Tyronn Lue said Wednesday. “Ready to go.”
The Cavs did not have media availability Thursday.
Indiana, meanwhile, spent most of the day working on corrections.
“I’ve already watched it,” Oladipo said, cutting off a question about whether he’d been studying film. “But I’ll probably watch it again.”
While coach Nate McMillan didn’t provide specific details about what adjustments he might make, the Pacers figure the simplest solution to containing James and regaining control of the series will be focusing on themselves.
“I think offensively, we didn’t have the proper spacing and we were letting them push us off our spots, like we did to them in Game 1. And Victor got into foul trouble,” Collison said. “There were a lot of encouraging signs from that game because we didn’t play our best basketball.”
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