Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) 110-99 Indiana Pacers (0-2)
Venue: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
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A nightmare second quarter for the Indiana Pacers (0-2) left them with too much to do in Ohio, as the Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) condemned the Blue and Gold to a second successive league defeat.
A lack of discipline and questionable defending on Saturday night meant that the Pacers had, to a point, self-inflicted on themselves a second loss of the season. Now standing at 0-2, Indiana have endured their worst start to an NBA campaign since 2015-16.
The second quarter was clearly where Cleveland won the game with a merciless 17-0 run, which extended their lead up to a mind-blowing 24 points at one point. Their 62-48 half-time lead was never going to be reversed. It was just a case of by how many points were the Pacers going to lose by.
One big positive to come out of the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse was Malcolm Brogdon, who is already justifying he can be the point guard that escalates this team to a higher level. The former Milwaukee man top scored on the night with 30 points and was aggressive with the ball by constantly getting into the paint and scoring baskets. He became the first NBA player to ever record at least 20 points and 10 assists in their first two matches for a new team. Victor Oladipo must be relishing forming a partnership with Brogdon once he returns to action.
The other big players – Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner – struggled to replicate their scoring success from opening night. They only banked 14 and 11 points respectively, however Turner did manage to get his first double-double of the season with 11 rebounds.
With smaller number in the points column, both had to be tighter defensively, but once again they struggled to cope with the opposition’s forwards. On Wednesday, Andre Drummond commanded the paint. Last night in Cleveland, they were either out of position or fouled their opponent who’d go on to shoot from the free throw line – especially Kevin Love.
Many have been left to wonder if Thaddeus Young had still been with the organisation, would he have done a better job dealing with Love and Tristan Thompson? Probably. But what good would it do to really go into this in detail?
Other errors from the defeat on opening night were escalated further, as the Pacers were out-rebounded, outscored in the paint and allowed the Cavs to score easy 3s. Seven fouls in the opening six minutes and 12 in total after one quarter was just too many to concede. With the high foul count, the Pacers were forced to defend the basket with more care in the second quarter. Instead of tightening up, they became softer and were bullied by the young Cavs.
Veterans Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson were key to the Cavs impressive scoring in the first half and ended the game with 21 and 25 points respectively. In the second quarter Cleveland scored 70% from 3-point range due to easy openings Indiana presented them with.
Edmond Sumner provided a bright spark in the first half for Indiana, but he committed two early fouls in the third, which left him stranded on the bench for the rest of the evening. If he is to fill in for Jeremy Lamb until he recovers from a hip injury, then he needs to try and restrict his foul count and spend more time on the floor.
Goga Bitadze did come on for his NBA debut in the first quarter, and managed to sink his first points in the league. The 20-year-old Georgian only managed four minutes though before leaving with a sore knee. However he shouldn’t miss any of Indiana’s next few matches.
This was the first of a three game road trip for the Pacers, who now travel to Michigan for a rematch with the Detroit Pistons (1-2) on Monday night.