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Pacers beat Cavs, 119-99 to win final game of 2020 then lose T.J. Warren to injury

Pacers ride strong third quarter to victory, but lose Warren indefinitely

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers close out 2020 with a 4-1 start to the 2021 season, after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-99 on New Year’s Eve.

Shortly after the game’s end, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported an update of T.J. Warren’s injury.

While there is no set time-table for a return, this is undoubtedly a significant loss for the Pacers. Nate Bjorkgren will have to get creative with rotations to mitigate his loss on-court. Wojnarowski added in a subsequent tweet that Warren dealt with a similar injury in Phoenix that also required surgery in 2016.

Even with T.J. Warren out, Indy continued their egaliatarian ways on offense; All 5 starters scored in double digits and Doug McDermott rained in 18 points off the bench.

The Cavs kept things close early despite poor first quarter shooting, largely through their work on the offensive glass. Cleveland corralled 8 offensive rebounds in the first 8 minutes of play, including 5 from JaVale McGee. However, the Pacers only allowed 4 offensive boards in the remaining 40 minutes of play, a hopeful sign considering the defensive glass problems of yesteryear.

Domantas Sabonis punctuated what has been an already stellar season, building off his All-Star campaign in 2020.

He finished with a team high 25 points, including hitting both of his shots from behind the arc. As Sabonis continues to unload from range, he’s been guarded in accordance. Out on the far corner, Drummond closed hard and Domas was able to quickly draw a foul as he drove to the basket. Even more impressively, Domas finished with 7 assists to 1 turnover.

Victor Oladipo continued his marksmanship from beyond the arc, hitting 4 of his 8 threes including multiple pull-up jumpers. He also led the Pacers with 8 assists and was effective in collapsing the Cavaliers defense, creating many of the open shots and easy baskets for Indy.

Malcolm Brogdon finished a team high +29, while contributing across the board (17pts/3boards/5assists) and canning 2/4 outside shots; his jump shot continues to show improvement from last year both off-dribble and off the catch. Brogdon is currently shooting over 60% true shooting on the 2021 NBA season, up 6.5% from last year.

Warren’s absence created holes in the rotation, leading to Kelan Martin checking in with 2:30 left in the first quarter. Martin’s energy and length was a positive for Indy, but he was out of rhythm and missed numerous point-blank looks (0/6 from the field). Although Martin was pulled after a turnover in the 2nd quarter, Coach Bjorkgren put Martin back out to close the third quarter.

Aaron Holiday took Warren’s place in the starting lineup and played strong defense while hitting his open jumpers, going 3 of 4 from three. He’d only hit two shots from outside in the four games to start the year.

The game was tight at half, 57-51 Pacers, but the Pacers continued their dominance in the third quarter, putting a 31-17 period on the Cavs.

Myles Turner finished with, for him, a paltry block total (1), but continued his defensive tear, swiping four steals including a strip on a Collin Sexton drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a fastbreak and Sabonis basket on the other end. While he missed all four of his outside jumpers, Myles continues to flash his drive game and improved decision-making on the offensive end. He hit a runner off a drive from the arc for the final points before garbage time in the fourth quarter, putting Indiana up 113-94.

Doug McDermott ended up playing the 5th-most minutes on the team and was a significant factor offensively and on the glass. McDermott received the call to close with the starters in the fourth quarter and chipped in 5 points in the closing quarter to help distance the Pacers from Cleveland.

For the Cavaliers, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined for 49 points. They routinely probed inside the Pacers defense with dribble penetration and created problems with their quickness.

Andre Drummond finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds, a solid stat line, but far less damaging than what the Pacers usually experience against Drummond.

Larry Nance Jr. had an all-around solid performance, finishing with 10/5/7 and 3 stocks.

Both the Cavs and Pacers entered the contest at the Fieldhouse 3-1. Somebody’s one has got to run????

The Cavaliers look to bounce back Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, while the Pacers look to continue thier impressive start in their second game against the Knicks on Saturday as well.