The Cleveland Cavaliers, for the third year in succession, have swept their first round opponent with this year's victim being the Indiana Pacers.
Not even the seemingly innocent tomfoolery of JR Smith could get in the way of the Cleveland Cavaliers closing out this series against the Pacers on Sunday.
The Cavaliers were clearly steps ahead of the Pacers throughout the series, but due to the fact that the Cavaliers had decided for the majority of the series to play zero defense, the games were a little tighter than they likely should have been. Cleveland and Indiana are not in the same country in terms of overall talent but don't tell Lance Stephenson that. He thinks he's the best player in the series, any game, and room that he's in.
The Cavaliers were lifted by their bench early on during the second quarter of the game Sunday. Deron Williams came off the bench and gave the team a nice spark of energy. At one point during the game, it was the Deron Williams and Channing Frye show - Williams assisting on Frye threes, Frye swatting shots on defense, and at one point late in the game, Frye even fired off a 360-degree pass to Iman Shumpert for the corner three.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the game was a one-on-one battle between Stephenson, the ball handler, and James, the defender. Stephenson hits James with a series of crosses, and James, not phased, simply tolerates the display by Stephenson until he merely pokes the ball away from a now clearly frustrated Stephenson.
Another big part of the game was the fact that LeBron James lived in the paint during the entirety of Game 4. He was displaying his low post prowess, his "old man game" which sucked in the defense and allowed for movement on the wings. Not only did he make his presence felt in the low post, but James absolutely obliterated a shot by Thaddeus Young, sending it six rows into the crowd. This kind of demoralization would have to sink into the opponent when they realize they're just outgunned, outmanned, outplayed.
Kevin Love sucked in as many rebounds as he could, looking like he was playing a life-size game of "hungry hungry hippos" during the first quarter. Love was dominant on the glass throughout the game, but he was very limited in what he was accomplishing on offense. He is very susceptible to missing early shots because he seems to have two disparate player-personalities: good Kevin and bad Kevin. Bad Kevin showed up today on the offensive end of the floor, but on the glass, he was great Kevin. He is one of the most confusing players on the team, and he is definitely game-to-game, series-to-series a major X-factor for the team.
Kyrie Irving got back on track on the offensive end of the floor during the game, but toward the end of the game, he began to take questionable shots, getting his shot blocked by Jeff Teague on multiple occasions. Speaking of Teague, at one point during the fourth quarter, it looked as though he was going to try to win the game single-handedly but then was undone by both himself missing shots as well as the fact that Lance Stephenson exists.
In the final 20 seconds of the game, JR Smith and Irving were on a fast break where Smith decides in a moment of insanity, to throw a behind the back pass to Irving that gets picked off by George. Remember, the Cavaliers were only up three at this point, and it can still allow the Pacers to tie the game on a George triple, but, as it the case with Paul George in the final 20 seconds of a game, he missed the shot — it's what he does.
Are the Cavaliers bullet-proof? Not in the slightest. The biggest problem for them right now is their defense, despite the fact that Tyronn Lue has been, reportedly, up until the wee hours of the morning working on defensive sets that will be kept under wraps until they're needed - yeah, I'll believe that when I see it. Was it good for them to get some time off? Of course. The Cavs next series will likely not start until early May, so they have the next week or so off in order to practice their defensive sets, recover, rest, and prepare themselves for either the Raptors or the Milwaukee Bucks. Either way, the next series shapes up, the Cavaliers have time to watch and get ready, scouting the opponent, scouting each other, and most importantly, fixing the issues that will come back to bite them if they're not careful.