The Cleveland Cavaliers look nothing like the team that has won three consecutive Eastern Conference titles as they enter Wednesday’s home game against the Indiana Pacers. The Cavaliers have lost three straight games, beginning with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets and followed by back-to-back blowout defeats against the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks.
Getting pounded 114-95 by the Knicks led to the Cavaliers holding a team meeting on Tuesday in search of figuring out how to start a turnaround. “I feel like we can get in better shape, that’s going to help us on the defensive end,” Cavaliers center Kevin Love told reporters after the meeting. “Communication, energy and just getting the new guys to (become) adjusted, well adjusted and on the floor, with more time together. So time will tell how it’s going to play out.” Indiana rolled to a 101-83 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday as offseason acquisition Domantas Sabonis contributed 12 points and a career-best 16 rebounds. The second-year forward came to the Pacers from Oklahoma City along with guard Victor Oladipo in exchange for All-Star forward Paul George.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, FSN Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE PACERS (4-3): Sabonis is dealing with an upper respiratory infection and that is only making his recent strong play look even better. He has collected double-digit rebounds in five consecutive games - averaging 12.4 during the stretch - and scored 22 points on 9-of-9 shooting in a recent victory over the San Antonio Spurs. “He’s a very intelligent basketball player,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan told reporters. “He plays within himself. He is always in the right place on both ends of the floor. His basketball IQ is high and he makes teammates better.”
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (3-4): Forward LeBron James failed to reach 20 points in either of the past two losses and coach Tyronn Lue said the former MVP is still bothered by the left ankle he injured during the preseason. “He’s trying to work himself back in shape, but the games are coming so fast and it’s hard to really do that,” Lue told reporters. “The best way to do that is by him playing more minutes and getting in game shape and we just got to go from there.” Cleveland’s lackluster start is also due to poor defense as the club is allowing 110.1 points per game and seeing opponents shoot 45.9 percent from the field.
1. The Cavaliers went 3-1 versus the Pacers in the regular season and later swept a four-game playoff series.
2. Cleveland SG Iman Shumpert (knee) will miss at least one week after being injured on Sunday.
3. Indiana C Myles Turner (concussion, neck) will miss his seventh consecutive game.
PREDICTION: Cavaliers 107, Pacers 102