What We Learned About the Cavs in Round 1
The Cleveland Cavaliers passed their first test at title defense as they took out the brooms and swept the Indiana Pacers 4-0. LeBron James once again showed he was too much to handle, as he has won 21 consecutive first-round series games and has a career record of 12-0 in the first round.
So, what did we learn from this series?
The Cavaliers demise were overblown, and LeBron James is still the best player on Earth. However, the defense that has plagued the Cavaliers during the 2nd half of the season, did not improve in this series. The Cavs allowed 111 points per 100 possessions against the Pacers -- only three teams are worse so far in the playoffs. One of them is Indiana, which is dead last at 115.9. While it was a complete 4-0 sweep, he Cavs' average margin of victory - 4.0 points - tied the smallest margin in a four-game sweep in league history. These were very close, competitive games and it wasn’t decided until the very end. Even though they were able to provide a glimpse of some lockdown defense, the defensive schemes they used to load up on Paul George in this series won’t work against better teams who have great ball movement, like the Golden State Warriors.
As expected though, the “Zero Dark Thirty-23” LeBron James was in full effect in this series, averaging 32.8 points, 9.8 boards and 9.0 assists. He was simply too good for the Pacers. However, the question must be asked, can LeBron keep this up? Did LeBron activate his “Zero Dark Thirty-23” mode too early? LBJ appears to be immortal, as he averaged a staggering 43.8 minutes this series. Will he run out of gas as the Cavs get deeper into the postseason?
The Cavs will now get a full eight-days rest until their semi-finals opponent on May 1st, as they will await the winner of Raptors-Bucks. These eight days will be critical for LeBron and his squad to get healthy. This will also be a very good opportunity for the team to finally have a full healthy squad at practice. The Cavaliers weren’t tested this series, and it won’t get easier from this point on. They must find their postseason form, the form that awarded them the Larry O’Brien trophy last June.