LeBron James has never lost a first round playoff series during his 15 year career, but now he faces a 2-1 deficit against the Victor Oladipo led Indiana Pacers. Many were surprised when the Cavs lost Game 1, but then everything seemed to go back to normal after they won Game 2 and tied the series 1-1. Game 3 seemed to be going the Cavs way, until the Pacers erased a 17 point half time deficit which led to a 92-90 win over the Cavaliers.
Once again, the Cavs problems made themselves evident. They can’t seem to put together four quarters of solid play. Even in their Game 2 win, the Cavaliers couldn’t put it all together. They held a 12 point lead at half time, but instead of building on their double digit lead, they let the Pacers get right back in the game and only ended up winning by three points.
Being down 2-1, the Cavs obviously have some ground to make up. Despite being down, LeBron James doesn’t seem to be fazed by it. When asked about the Game 1 loss, LeBron said, “I mean, I’m down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So I’m the last guy to ask about how you’re going to feel the next couple days.”
LeBron does have experience coming back in a series, one of the greatest comebacks of all time I might add, but this Cavaliers team is much different than the team who overcame being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals. That team had its issues at times throughout the season, but the problems the 2018 Cavaliers have are much more apparent.
One of the biggest differences on this team is the lack of another star player. There’s no Kyrie Irving this time. Kevin Love is the closest thing LeBron has to a star, but Love isn’t a star. When the Cavs came back after being down 3-1, LeBron James played out of his mind, but he also had Kyrie Irving playing great basketball. LeBron is playing out his mind in this series, averaging 32.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists, but there’s nobody else giving the Cavs great play.
The incredible play of LeBron James can only take the Cavaliers so far. Even when LeBron scored 46 points in Game 2, the Cavs only won by three points. Game 2 could have easily been a loss for Cleveland. I understand why LeBron is still confident, but he has to know that there’s a real possibility he doesn’t make it out of the first round.
In no way am I doubting LeBron. Over the years I’ve learned to never doubt him. If anyone can get the Cavs out of a hole, it’s LeBron. If anyone can get the Cavs out of the first round, it’s LeBron. We’ve seen LeBron accomplish the impossible before and I know he could do it again. If the Pacers win Game 4 tomorrow night though, it may be too late for the Cavs to come back.
I’m going to predict the Cavaliers winning Game 4 and tying the series 2-2. From there, I think the Cavs win Game 5, but then the Pacers win Game 6. If this series goes to Game 7, I’ll pick the Cavaliers to advance because of LeBron James. LeBron has never lost a first round series, but this time around could be the most challenging first round series he’s ever had. Until the Pacers win four games in this series, I have confidence LeBron can lead his team to a first round victory.