Game one was a surprise -- not because the Pacers won but rather by the way they won thanks to a combination of Victor Oladipo’s pull-up threes and intense defense. It might’ve been Indiana’s best-played game all season, considering the circumstances.
But game one couldn’t be more irrelevant as Indiana tries to keep their foot on the gas against Cleveland. Whether it be trailing 2-1 in the 2015 conference semifinals or 3-1 in the NBA finals Lebron James and the Cavaliers know how to adjust in the playoffs. And they will.
Cleveland’s shot selection was not as bad as their 38.5 percent shooting percentage would indicate. 45 of the Cavaliers’ 78 shots were considered wide open (no defender within four feet or more) yet they shot an abysmal 36 percent on open shots.
Here are three shots that were missed despite James setting up the plays perfectly for his teammates
The good news is that, in terms of the whole season, game one wasn’t an outlier for the Pacers. Cleveland has played Indiana five times this season and shot 31 percent or below from the three-point range in all four of the five games. This includes three times where the Cavaliers shot below 25 percent from three.
Another thing Cleveland might try to do is force the ball out of Oladipo’s hands as much as possible. It’s no secret Oladipo carved up the Cavaliers defense -- just ask Caitlin Cooper.
Oladipo took advantage of Cleveland backing off of him every time by either shooting a pull-up three or driving into the lane to make layups and draw fouls. The Cavaliers were only effective at stopping Oladipo when they were able to double-team him or at least make him think he was about to be double-teamed. Which forced the ball out of his hands and led to a turnover a couple times.
The problem, however, is that outside of James, the Cavaliers lack a defender who can pressure Oladipo in a threatening way. In order for the Cavs to shift James into the double team, he has to leave Darren Collison who is the Pacers’ best three-point shooter and ball-handler.
For the Cavaliers, it’s a “pick your poison” type of situation and in game one head coach Tyronn Lue clearly thought Oladipo’s decision-making was questionable compared to Collison. Lue decided to roll the dice and see if Oladipo could beat his team in game one and he did.
Lue won’t make the same mistake in game two and the Pacers better be ready. Despite missing 12 of his shots, Bojan Bogdanovic may be the team’s best bet for a huge game two because if he can successfully complete the types of shots he wants.
Bogdanovic missed five three-pointers, including two wide-open corner threes in game one.
He’d be the best counterpunch to the possibility of Cleveland adjusting on defense and improving their shots from three. Three-pointers can be both huge momentum gainers and killers. Quicken Loans got a little quieter and a little more deflated on Sunday every time Oladipo pulled up for a three.
This one sent them home -- just watch the crowd in the background after he makes the shot.