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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Game 34: Pacers at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: I believe the Pacers are the best team in the league. You'd have a hard time convincing the Cavs that they are not, especially after the Pacers recorded their ninth consecutive win in the series.

The Cavs had a chance to win this game, but suffered some key turnovers down the stretch. The worst was when Earl Clark stepped out of bounds with 6.9 seconds left. The Cavs needed a 3-pointer on the possession, but they had a chance to send it into overtime.

The Cavs could have tied it with 8.9 seconds left. They trailed by two points, 80-78, but Dion Waiters' drove into oblivion in the lane. His shot didn't hit the rim. It didn't hit anything. But he was fun to watch in the fourth quarter when he had 12 of his 14 points.

The Pacers play like they are in the playoffs: Tough, grind-it-out games that are low scoring. They are talented, deep and extremely well-coached. They can actually rely on their defense to win games. The Cavs can't do that yet.

The Cavs haven't won a game in this series since Feb. 15, 2012.

Without Andrew Bynum, the Cavs don't have the size inside to deal with the likes of Pacers center Roy Hibbert. He can take over games with his length. He shuts off dribble penetration, something the Cavs need to do to win the game.

Cavs coach MIke Brown emphasized their drive-and-kick game against the Pacers. That's easier said than done, especially with point guards Kyrie Irving (left knee contusion) and Jarrett Jack (back spasms) sidelined. Irving might not play Tuesday, either. I would assume Jack will give it a go.

I'm sure Irving is itching to play. He's missed the last three games with the contusion suffered in the Indiana game on New Year's Eve. 

The Cavs have now lost to the Pacers three times this year.

It's time to turn the tables on the Pacers. The problem with defending the Pacers is if you slow down Paul George, their best player, someone else vaults to the forefront. Shooting guard Lance Stephenson is having an outstanding year, the best of his career. He could make the All-Star team.

They also bring Danny Granger off the bench, which is a nice luxury to have.

The Cavs are struggling to score points. They shot just 34.2 percent from the field against the Pacers.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Philadelphia at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Earl Clark (6-10, 225) vs. Paul George (6-9, 228)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. David West (6-9, 250)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Roy Hibbert (7-2, 290)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Lance Stephenson (6-5, 230)
PG Matthew Dellavedova (6-4, 200) vs. George Hill (6-2, 188)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, C Andrew Bynum
Pacers - F Solomon Hill
Bill Kennedy, Brent Barnaky, Derrick Collins


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