Cavs present a potential trap for Pacers
If there’s such a thing as a trap game in the first week of the NBA season, this qualifies.
The Pacers defeated Cleveland in all four meetings last season, by 15, 10, 21 and 5 points. They are off to a 2-0 start, and are one of only two NBA teams (Oklahoma City being the other) to win in an opponent’s home opener after defeating New Orleans on Wednesday.
Life is good. But life has barely begun.
Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse could offer a glimpse into the Pacers’ collective mindset. A team that’s a legitimate championship contender and realizes the importance of homecourt advantage in the playoffs takes this game as seriously as the one it plays against Chicago next Wednesday, even if it did defeat the Cavs by 23 points in a preseason game on Oct. 19.
“Every game counts,” Paul George said. “This being a division game, we have to take care of business. We have to come in focused and ready to go.”
The Cavs are a drastically different team than the one that lost to the Pacers by an average of nearly 13 points a game last season. Star point guard Kyrie Irving has a year of experience under the elastic band in his shorts, free agent point guard Jarrett Jack strengthens the backcourt and Anthony Bennett, the first pick in this year’s NBA draft, lends promise.
“I think our guys understand this Cleveland team is a lot better than last year’s team — a lot better,” coach Frank Vogel said.
(The Pacers) shouldn’t be making any comparison to last year’s team. They’ll be made well aware of the fact this is a different basketball team.”
It’s 1-of-82, of course, and not the end of the world or the season if the Pacers falter. But it’s an early litmus test that will reveal how seriously the players are taking their quest for homecourt advantage.