What on earth happened in Indianapolis?
I mean, I’ve been over Game 6. The video footage. The play-by-play. The game flow. Everything.
And the Pacers just flat-out destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-87, shredding them like sensitive documents in a politician’s office in the second half, including a 35-20 third quarter that effectively iced the game.
Victor Oladipo had a triple-double, scoring 28 points, pulling 13 rebounds, and dishing 10 assists. The Pacers overall put up a Total Team Effort—in the playoffs!—in which all five starters plus Domantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson got into double figures.
And the Cavaliers…well, LeBron James had 22 points, but unlike in Cleveland’s three wins, where LeBron had at least one (OK, only one—J.R. Smith in one win and Kyle Korver in the other two) player helping him out, the entire supporting cast disappeared.
This was, in essence, an even nastier beatdown than the same circumstances granted Indiana in Game 1.
And Pacers fans are all on the same page…if it weren’t for that stinkin’ ref in Game 5 and his non-call on goaltending, this series would be over, Pacers in 6, let the think pieces about LeBron and the Cavs begin.
Oh, and for your neat-o stat of the night: All 12 Pacers players who appeared in the game had a positive plus-minus, even the guys who played the last four minutes of garbage time. Al Jefferson was the lone DNP-CD.
The macro stats were right out of the winner’s playbook too. Indiana had seven turnovers; Cleveland had 14. The Pacers hit better on field goals (56.3 percent to 41.7), threes (50-31.6), and even free throws (57.1-56.3; 8-of-14 for the Pacers and 9-of-16 for the Cavs.)
Indiana had more rebounds (44-33) and assists (27-16) too. This was just a straight-up beatdown from a team that may be headed for a heartbreak but wasn’t going to have it in front of their own fans.
📊: 28 PTS | 13 REB | 10 AST pic.twitter.com/tHU6nFvht0
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 28, 2018
And Lance Stephenson was at his belligerent best 😂😎 pic.twitter.com/S74uBQ54U2
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) April 28, 2018
Take note, it’s worth getting up early on the west coast:
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 28, 2018
Speaking of Take Note…
The Jazz, as most people who aren’t starstruck by Russell Westbrook expected, closed out their series in six on their home floor.
The 96-91 win was made possible by the Jazz refusing to allow Oklahoma City’s supporting cast to do damage. Westbrook had 46 points on an insane 18-of-43 shooting, trying to win the game by himself and instead shooting his team in the foot with his horrifyingly low-efficiency shooting.
Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell‘s 38 came on a much better 14-of-26, including 3-of-8 from three and canning all five of his free throws.
As a team, Oklahoma City’s shooting splits were 39.8/29.4/53.8. They might have won this game but for Westbrook’s selfishness, PG13’s disappearing when it mattered most, and Melo’s being a washed-up has been who has no business as an NBA starter at this point.
In other words, Sam Presti’s win-now moves were a complete disaster. Might as well just keep Westbrook on a G-League team and let him average a triple-double for the rest of his career while making first-round playoff exits…and that was cheaper last year.
Mr. Mitchell, party of five, your table is ready for the second round:
— NBA (@NBA) April 28, 2018
Toronto Goes Voldemort
It is a maxim in NBA prediction circles not to pick the higher seed to win in 6; that’s usually when either a team about to be eliminated in Game 7 has its last hurrah or else a lower seed pulls an upset. Higher seeds tend to either sweep or clinch at home.
But Toronto? After splitting the first four games, they just decided “Nah, we’ll win now, thanks.”
Meanwhile, eight Raptors scored at least seven points, with Kyle Lowry leading the scoring with 24 points on 9-of-15 from the field.
Ball control was the order of the day; the Raptors had just six turnovers against the Wizards’ 14. They also dominated the offensive glass, grabbing 16 offensive boards to the Wizards’ 11, and in terms of available misses, both teams had 31 defensive rebounds.
The Wiz were live dogs, hitting 20-of-21 free throws, but their complete ineptitude otherwise (40.5 percent shooting) sank them.
But give the love to the reserves in this come-from-behind win:
— NBA (@NBA) April 28, 2018
We’ll be back Monday with weekend highlights…including the epic Game 7 in Cleveland. Go Pacers, stay tuned, and thanks for reading!