"Try to block my shot now, Gooden."
(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tueday night the Pacers couldn't improve their standing in the East as the Cavs played like a legitimate playoff contender beating the Pacers, 105-94. LeBron James was not the show, yet the Cavs were still able to absorb a pretty solid effort from the Pacers and turn it into a text book NBA W. The Cavs lead from the middle of the first quarter on through the final buzzer and made it look easy. Other observations:
- Danny Granger played a great game on both ends of the floor. He was matched up with LeBron most of the night and really kept him down in Cleveland's half court sets, often leaving LBJ shooting long jumpers. Granger's highlight defensively came when he forced everyone watching to witness LeBron burping up two turnovers on consecutive trips down the floor. On offense, Granger pumped in 22 points on 10-17 shooting and found success taking the ball inside.
- Jermaine O'Neal had another big night going for 32 points, including 18 in the first half. The Cavs started doubling J.O. in the second half, which forced others to step up. Granger, Murphy, and Tinsley did a pretty good job.
- Once again, the last few minutes of the game saw no one in white step up, though, which move a four point game to the final double-digit margin. At 5:09 left Tinsley scored to make the score 89-85 Cleveland. With 54 seconds left in the game, only Murphy and J.O. had scored over the past 4:15 and the Cavs were up 99-89. Game over.
- The Pacer killer tonight was Eric Snow coming off the bench. With LeBron on the court, the defense has to be ready to help and willing to take their chances leaving someone open. That someone was Eric Snow and he made the Pacers pay hitting 5 of 7 shots and getting to the free throw line to finish with 14 back breaking points.
- At half time we learned that Ike Diogu didn't have a basketball hero growing up because his brothers played football and he didn't watch basketball. Ike loves video games and movies, especially old karate movies from the 70's with the mismatched audio. He also, loves old school disco, naming Donna Summer as his favorite. I think Ike was born in the wrong era. Ike wasn't much help against the Cavs. During his limited time, he couldn't shoot over Zydrunas Ilgauskas and so all of his interior moves were stymied by the big Iggy.
- These are strange days indeed, Mama, for the Indiana Pacers. With the custard soft middle pack of teams in the NBA, losing games isn't enough to alter the Pacers spot in the standings from night to night. The Pacers keep losing (13 of their last 15) and appear headed for a top ten draft position which would allow the Pacers to reclaim their pick from the Hawks this year. But, the Pacers play the Nets tomorrow night. If they win that one game, the Pacers would be in position to be the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. I still want the Pacers to make the playoffs because I'm not sure I want the ninth or tenth pick this year. But, there could be worse things than getting that pick so you won't hear me complain.