Stephenson, Pacers size up playoff run-in with LeBron

Stephenson, Pacers size up playoff run-in with LeBron

Stephenson, Pacers size up playoff run-in with LeBron

As his game continues to develop into an effective sidekick for James, teams will continue to struggle defending him. The Indiana Pacers are shooting 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 77.9 percent from the free throw line.

The Pacers will be faced with a monster of their own in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the defending Eastern Conference champion and National Basketball Association champion in 2016. If they make the Finals, they'll be the lowest seeded team to make it since the 4th seeded Boston Celtics made it to the 2010 Finals.

Three days before Sunday afternoon's Game 1, the Pacers were not front-page news in Cleveland. That will depend on LeBron James.

In a season of change, at least one thing remained constant for the Cleveland Cavaliers: the team's swagger. That's the obvious difference in this year's run. This Indiana team has a true point guard in Darren Collison, a full-speed All-Star in Victor Oladipo, a budding big man in Myles Turner, a leader in Thaddeus Young, a sharpshooter in Bojan Bogdanovic, and a bench that is tough, gritty, and selfless. Kevin Love's play has also been a big plus this season and expect him to help Cleveland win the rebounding battle in the series. Here's a look at the odds to win the Eastern Conference.

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As you can see, the numbers are scarily similar.

Although the Cavs have had more makeovers this year than any leading lady in Hollywood, the Pacers took three of four during the regular season.

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo speaks April 12, 2018, with the news media at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The confidence oozes out of this team from top to bottom. I am not friends with them either when I am playing against them. Playing with a chip on not just one, but both shoulders.

January 26: Cleveland briefly emerged from their January funk in time to get their lone win over the Pacers this season - but they didn't make it easy on themselves, weathering nine fourth-quarter turnovers to take the 115-108 win at The Q. JR Smith canned seven triples and finished with 23 points and LeBron James notched his eight triple-double of the season in the win. They will face the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. That was not the M.O. for this organization.

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In those previous meetings, the Cavs did not get enough production outside of LeBron and they could not contain Oladipo at all. "They're excited, we're excited, I'm excited, so I think they're doing a good job, and they'll be fine". The starting lineups can essentially be a wash, but when that second unit comes in, the Pacers are leaps and bounds ahead of Cleveland.

In Game 4, the Pacers almost turned the table on the Cavaliers in Game 4 - erasing Cleveland's late 17-point lead in an attempt to force a Game 5 back at The Q. But LeBron's triple gave Cleveland its final lead of the game, handing the Pacers their first four-game sweep in franchise history.

IN will push Cleveland to their limit in this series.

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