Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers 117-111


Partially because the Pacers have some major defensive flaws, but mostly because the Cavaliers are just too good.

The Indiana Pacers went down 0-2 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs on Monday after botching the final few minutes of a late comeback attempt.

Throughout Love's tenure with the Cavs, he has been known for getting involved in the offense early in games, particularly in the first quarter, but has a habit of seeming to fade out of games in terms of scoring. Third-seeded Toronto was overwhelmed by Giannis Antetokounmpo's 28 points and blown out 97-83 by Milwaukee, while the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers were edged 97-95 by Utah on Joe Johnson's basket as time expired. During this time, the Pacers saw a nine-point Cavs lead balloon to 19.

"If I didn't get that block previous year in the Finals, what happens?" James didn't play in the lone loss in November. Listen, you can't ask that question, man. Kevin Love scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half and finished with just four rebounds.

San Antonio looked as if it might be in trouble - for 10 minutes. In both games of this series thus far, that has been the case. They got the 19-point fourth quarter Cavaliers' lead down to six, but bad possessions and the infamous iso ball showed up and the rest was history. He's gotta learn to just be in the moment.

The Cavaliers allowed ballhandlers to score 0.89 points per possession on the pick-and-roll - fifth-most in the National Basketball Association - during the regular season and are surrendering 1.2 points per possession to the Pacers in the playoffs. The Cleveland Cavaliers are shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc and 68 percent from the free throw line. His body language has to improve, just for the team.

Opposing players and coaches often describe guarding the Cavs as a case of "pick your poison" and in this case, Cleveland's third star happened to be that poison. In a fragile locker room, perhaps it's not the best idea to choose the middle of a playoff series as the time to start telling it like it is. And they did not even give us a chance.

Some may view this as George criticizing a teammate for the second game in a row, but even Stephenson would probably acknowledge he needs to handle himself better.

Pacers: Glenn Robinson III returned after missing the past 12 games with a strained left calf. The Indiana Pacers are allowing 40.7 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 37 rebounds per game. So if the Pacers get another chance, he better not miss it.

The San Antonio Spurs also took a 2-0 lead as Kawhi Leonard inspired a 96-82 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

He's gotta know at this point we need him to take it to the next level, and we'll continue to work with him.

The victory came at a cost for Cleveland however, with guard J.R. Smith limping off with a hamstring injury. It was the 13th playoff game in which he collected at least 30 points and 10 assists.

Leonard opened the game by making his first three shots and four free throws as the Spurs built a 13-point lead, the same deficit they faced in the opening period Saturday.