Cavaliers-Pacers Preview


After suffering a pair of blowout defeats, the Indiana Pacers should have a decent chance to bounce back against a team they've dominated in recent years.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, though, have been winning since questions arose concerning coach Byron Scott's future.

The Pacers will try to beat Cleveland for the 12th time in 13 meetings on Tuesday night, while the visiting Cavaliers look to match their season-high winning streak.

Indiana (48-29) appeared to be peaking at the right time, winning five straight and eight of nine before losing to Oklahoma City and Washington by a combined 41 points in its last two games.

The Pacers still managed to clinch their first Central Division title in nine years when Chicago lost at Detroit on Sunday, but they've fallen 2 1/2 games behind red-hot New York in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

With only five games remaining, they'll try to regain some ground by posting their sixth straight home win over the Cavaliers (24-52).

That would give Indiana - which has won the first three meetings by an average of 15.3 points - its second series sweep in three seasons.

Cleveland, however, hasn't been the same club since media speculation began that Scott, who is 63-160 in three seasons, may not be back for a fourth.

"To even imagine that, I'm not going down that road," said Kyrie Irving of Scott's possible departure. "I'm focused on finishing the season with him and that's all that matters right now.''

Following a season-worst 10th straight loss, the Cavaliers posted consecutive wins over Boston and Orlando to put themselves in position for their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 2-8.

Forward Tristan Thompson has led the way, totaling 44 points and 33 rebounds in the two wins. He also had 20 and 11, respectively, in a 111-90 home loss to Indiana on March 18.

Irving, on the other hand, has struggled in his three games since returning from a shoulder injury, averaging 12.0 points on 12-of-51 shooting (23.5 percent). The All-Star could have a difficult time getting on track in this matchup, since he's totaled 26 points while going 9 of 28 in his two games against the Pacers.

The Cavaliers have averaged just 86.7 points on 37.2 percent shooting in the season series and have failed to score 100 in their last 10 games overall.

While the Pacers rank near the top of the league in both defensive categories, they've allowed 102.8 points - 12.6 above their season average - on 48.6 percent shooting in their last four games.

Paul George had two points and missed all eight of his field goal attempts in a 104-85 loss at Washington on Saturday, but may be able to bounce back since he's averaged a team-best 17.0 points against the Cavaliers.

"I've just got to get my legs back under me,'' George said. "Just get my mental focus back.''

Roy Hibbert has been a force inside, averaging 22.8 points on 59.6 percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds over his last six contests.

Indiana, which leads the NBA in rebounding differential at plus-5.1, has owned a 149-121 margin on the glass in the three wins over Cleveland.

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