Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers battled the Indiana Pacers inside Quicken Loans Arena through four quarters of regulation time and two periods of overtime, resulting in a grind-out 135-130 victory for the home team. A game like last night’s may have been just what the doctor ordered for a Cavs team that struggled through the month of March.
While he couldn’t quite manage to find a rhythm in the early stages of last night’s game, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love turned it on in the second overtime frame, scoring nine of his 20 points in those final five minutes on 4-of-4 shooting from the field. Love was in the air, as Fred McLeod would say, and Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue couldn’t have been happier.
“He definitely got us over the hump,” coach Lue said. “Kevin was great for us in those two overtimes. It was good to see him come through like that.”
J.R. Smith’s performance in last night’s game was a bit overshadowed by his teammates, but he too played a pivotal role in the win. In the first overtime period, “Swish,” as Smith is affectionately known amongst his fans and followers, stepped up and knocked down a clutch three-pointer to keep the game close. In his 42 minutes of playing time, Smith recorded 18 points (6-of-12 from the field and 6-of-11 from beyond the three-point line), five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
During his post-game media availability, Coach Lue was asked if he thinks Smith could be building momentum.
“I hope so,” Lue said. “He’s working every day, trying to get in shape, get his legs, shooting the ball every day. He’s putting in the work, and when you put the work in, you get results. Just continue to shoot the ball the way he’s capable of doing and we’ll be hard to beat.”
With just six more games remaining in the regular season (three home, three away), the Cavs, who are currently trailing the Boston Celtics by 1/2 game in the standings, will need to focus if they intend on claiming this year’s Eastern Conference crown. The ultimate goal, however, is to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy for a second consecutive season.