The Indiana Pacers went to work early and often against a short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers team, pushing a double figure lead early and never relinquishing it as they won their fourth straight preseason game. The Pacers and Cavs each shot similar percentages in the 45% range, but the Pacers forced 23 Cleveland turnovers, leading to 31 points, whereas Cleveland could only capitalize on three off of 16 Pacers turnovers.
Paul George led the Pacers in 27 minutes of action with 17 points, but struggled shooting the ball at just 5-16. Despite a poor shooting night, George was still Indiana's best player, coming up with eight boards, three assists, and a steal. The play of George continues to impress, and the use of George within the small ball lineup (forcing difficult matchups on offense against Anderson Varejao and Timofey Mozgov while allowing C.J. Miles to take on some defensive brunt at the four) could prove an interesting wrinkle yet with the regular season looming.
The real surprise of the night came from Ian Mahinmi, who put in excellent work against both Varejao and Mozgov to score 16 points on 6-9 shooting and a stunning 4-5 from the line. Mahinmi had big moves on offense throughout the night, staying engaged despite picking up three first half fouls. Mahinmi's athleticism was on display and for tonight looked the perfect starting center for Indiana's offense, especially if he catches passes as well as tonight.
Monta Ellis had his best preseason outing, scoring 14 points on 6-7 shooting, looking most fluid within the offense, playing a solid shooting guard to George Hill's play at the point. Hill had eight points, mostly coming from the line, hitting 5-6 to go along with a three pointer. C.J. Miles had just two points, but was the biggest beneficiary of Cleveland's turnover prone night, coming up with four steals.
Off the bench, the biggest nights came from Indiana's two rookie draft picks, with Joe Young getting backup point minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-7 shooting with six assists. Myles Turner also impressed with 11 points, six rebounds, and two blocks, both coming in 20 minutes of action. Chase Budinger struggled shooting, going 0-4. Lavoy Allen scored four and grabbed six boards with Glenn Robinson III getting six points on his night.
Indiana dominated the glass tonight, outrebounding the Cavs by 14, but the Pacers were simply the much more active team tonight. Indiana mainly stuck to a 10-man rotation tonight, but despite the effort, their biggest struggles came with the second unit. Rodney Stuckey should offer up some offensive help, but it might be a lot any given night to trust Joe Young with the weight of the second unit offense.
The Pacers will enter their final week of preseason play when they tip off against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.