Cavs take 2-0 lead vs Pacers

Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for IN, which showed more fight, but has a steep hill to climb to win the series.

More so than just 3s, though, which accounted for half of Love's six made field goals in Game 2, it's how the Pacers have defended him inside which has given them so many problems.

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith (5) passes against Indiana Pacers' Jeff Teague (44) in the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 17, 2017, in Cleveland.

Kyrie Irving recorded 37 points, with 27 from Kevin Love, as the Cavs moved 2-0 up in the best-of-seven series.

Never mind the blown fourth-quarter leads. Defensive breakdowns. Bad shots.

The Pacers fell 2-0 to the Miami Heat on Monday night, but Stephenson has been decent as that utility piece.

CLEVELAND - Never mind that the Cleveland Cavaliers almost blew another late double-digit lead in their 117-111 Game 2 victory over the Indiana Pacers to go up 2-0 in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

After giving up a late lead and squeaking out the opener by a point, James and Co. showed more intensity on defense, more swagger in general and won their 10th straight first-round game over the past three seasons.

It was a little more nervy than it ought to have been, though, as the Cavs were leading by 18 points in the final quarter before taking their foot off the pedal.

Still, James came away encouraged. "We'll figure it out".

"I'd much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all", James said. "We're right there on turning the switch on what we really can become".

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Outside of Tristan Thompson, who is a good defensive player, and James, who can be when he's locked in and motivated to be (which, understandably, is not all the time in his 14th year in the National Basketball Association at age 32) Cleveland regularly plays no one who can honestly be considered better than an average defender. And if they can't dig themselves out of an 0-2 deficit when the first-round series resumes in Indianapolis on Thursday night, George and in will be facing an elimination game Sunday.

Paul George did everything he could to get IN back IN the series. He was his normal self in the first frame, ending the first 12 minutes with 10 points on a ideal 3-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from the stripe, to go with 7 rebounds. At one point, cameras appeared to catch Pacers coach Nate McMillan telling Stephenson to calm down. "At halftime, I was just looking at the guys and telling them 'Let's get a couple stops'".

George is averaging 30.5 points, 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the first two games, similar to the numbers he had during a five-game winning streak that got the Pacers into the playoffs. "It's our offense. I think we get exhausted at times".

The third quarter is where the Cavaliers took complete control, and at least part of the damage was due to Indiana's defensive scheme. "And that was big". Our trainer Steve (Spiro) said it's not a smart thing for him to try it, so we sat him out and he was kind of mad about it.

There is, however, value in trying to find a guy that can be a utility piece for when they do get competitive.

Smith, who had a noticeable limp Monday, hopes to play Thursday.

"It's been our mentality all year - next man up - and Shump has been playing all year", he said.

"We believe", he said. "We needed that spark". "To go up 3-0, makes things a lot more hard for those guys". "A lot of it is just his heart and his competitiveness", George said. "I just want to help my teammates out, sacrifice my body, and I feel like I did that tonight".

Pacers: Glenn Robinson III returned after missing the past 12 games with a strained left calf.

"And if we can follow that game plan for as close to 48 minutes as possible, then nine times out of 10 we can be successful". C Al Jefferson was active, but didn't play. "Even in, you know, the first two quarters, we build a lead, we didn't close out the second quarter as well...." He also passed Magic Johnson (358 steals) for third place in playoff steals. Stephenson had a strong workout with Cleveland in January before latching on with in, but coach Tyronn Lue said his recent injuries dissuaded the Cavs from signing him.

Jeff Teague added 15 for IN, and Lance Stephenson scored 13 for the Pacers.

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