The Cleveland Cavaliers spotted the Indiana Pacers a 25-point halftime lead in Game 3, then responded with one of the best defensive quarters they’ve played since LeBron James’ homecoming to claim a 119-114 win and a 3-0 lead in their first-round series.
The King finished with with 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and two blocks, completing just the seventh 40-point triple-double in NBA playoff history, including 28 points, six rebounds, seven assists, a block, a steal and zero turnovers in the second half alone.
Despite the win, the Cavaliers still have two major causes for concern.
A better team than Indiana – say, the Golden State Warriors – will exploit the bickering and miscommunication that consumes Cleveland every time the Cavs have a defensive breakdown.
The Warriors would turn that lack of focus into a second consecutive easy bucket, and another, and another, just as the Pacers did in the first half on Wednesday.
When you play an actual championship contender, you can’t just flip the switch in the second half to win the game.
Second, we need to talk about LeBron’s free-throw shooting.
We’re not to the point w teams are going to consider intentionally fouling LeBron, but we’re getting close.
The Cavs can work out their communication problems and LeBron can round into form at the stripe.