The Cavaliers were rolling on a 13 game winning streak and shot themselves back up to second place in the Eastern Conference. But Victor Oladipo and the Pacers didn’t care when they beat up on Cleveland Friday night.
The game was close, but the Pacers led most of the way. Oladipo was dominant in the same ways he has been all season long for Indiana. He scored 33 points, hit six three-pointers, dished out five assists and grabbed eight rebounds on the way to a Pacers’ win.
Oladipo and the Pacers weren’t supposed to be this good, yet here they are going toe to toe with the Cavaliers and ending their hot streak. Here’s how they got it done.
Victor Oladipo was special, but especially in the clutch
If you’re going to beat the Cavaliers, you’ve got to know they’re going to make run after run after run. And when they make those runs, you’ve got to stave them off. Especially when it gets late in the game.
That’s what the Pacers did. The fourth quarter was ugly — the two teams only combined for 33 total points. But every single bucket counted with the Cavs breathing down the Pacers’ necks.
Oladipo scored five of the Pacers’ 17 fourth quarter points in the last 1:35 of the game including this tough 30 footer over Kevin Love.
More clutch work from Victor Oladipo pic.twitter.com/cJqeBOon05— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 9, 2017
It wasn’t much, but if it weren’t for these buckets the Pacers don’t win this game.
The Cavs couldn’t defend the three again
The Cavaliers’ defensive woes were front and center once again. The team improved on defense during their 13-game winning streak, but they reverted back to their poor habits in this on.
They didn’t defend the three point line well at all. The Pacers went 15-39 from deep and most of them were wide open looks off of easy dribble penetration. They couldn’t keep the Pacers from getting into the lane and sharing the ball. It’s tough to win games when opponents are shooting that well from deep at such a high volume — even when you’ve got LeBron James on your side.
The Pacers are just incredibly fun now and that’s perfect
Basketball is all about fun! These guys are just playing the game together and doing it well. It doesn’t make a bunch of sense — they’re a team filled with journeyman and inexperienced players who shouldn’t really make a difference. But they’re playing well and it doesn’t really have to make sense.
Oladipo is a star now. The sample size of his incredible production is still small, but even if he regresses, it shouldn’t be so hard that the Pacers completely fall off the map. They’re playing with confidence that they just didn’t have last year, and it’s really refreshing to see.
We get plays like the big shot Oladipo hit earlier and then moments that follow it like this.
We get incredibly corny puns from the Pacers social team.
We get fun tweets from Myles Turner that we just didn’t see last year.
— Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) December 9, 2017
After what this team went through with Paul George waffling between wanting to stay in Indiana and wanting to go wherever else, the Pacers deserve this moment.
Will they top this? I don’t know. Maybe? But who cares? If ending this winning streak ends up being the highlight of their season, so be it. But instead of waiting for them to fail, we should look forward to many more of these moments to come.