Paul George is being vocal about his teammates but he clearly is the only player capable of keeping the Indiana Pacers in the best-of-seven first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The All-Star forward will try to keep the seventh-seeded Pacers from falling behind 3-0 when they host the second-seeded Cavaliers on Thursday.
George averaged 30.5 points and seven assists and knocked down 10 3-pointers as Indiana dropped the first two games and everyone understands the dire circumstances. “We know what’s at stake,” Pacers swingman C.J. Miles told reporters. “We’re going to go out there, keep trying to give them hell, keep competing and we’ll get ourselves a win.” Cleveland averaged 113 points while winning the first two games and All-Star forward LeBron James is impressed with what he’s seeing. “We’re right there of what we know we can become, and we’ll figure it out,” James told reporters. “... We make plays down the stretch to win a ball game in the postseason, and that’s all you can ask for. But we’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Indiana
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Point guard Kyrie Irving (37 points), power forward Kevin Love (27) and James (25) combined for 89 points in the 117-111 victory in Game 2, becoming the first trio to each score 25 points or more in the franchise’s playoff history. James (5,629) is 12 points away from passing Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list and he is pleased with the team-first showing the club is displaying. “Our mindset is what we can do to help each other to be successful out on the floor,” James said. “We have a game plan from our coaching staff and we just try to execute that. We can’t worry about what the opponent is feeling or if they feel like they lost composure.”
ABOUT THE PACERS: George is on edge and criticized Miles for taking the last shot in Game 1 - “I got to get the last shot,” George asserted - and then he ripped swingman Lance Stephenson’s antics and power forward Myles Turner’s subpar play after Game 2. The 21-year-old Turner is averaging 8.5 points in the series - six below his regular-season average - while giving an effort George doesn’t feel is up to par. “He needs to make himself available down low in the post,” George told reporters of Turner. “He needs to know at this point he has to take it to the next level. We’ll continue to work with him. I’ve been in his ear all the way up until this point - you know, that next step.”
1. The teams split two regular-season games at Indiana.
2. Indiana PG Jeff Teague (wrist) is expected to play after averaging 19 points through two games.
3. Cleveland SG J.R. Smith (hamstring) underwent an MRI exam (results were negative) and is questionable for Game 3.
PREDICTION: Pacers 107, Cavaliers 104