The defending NBA Champions the Cleveland Cavaliers barely eked one out today in a battle that saw the Indiana Pacers surge back in the final minutes of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The No. 2 Cavs—who were showing poor form in the waning moments of their regular season—were nearly knocked off by the No. 7 Pacers. Ultimately, luck handed the Cavs a freebie, but the 'business as usual' result will betray just how close the Cavs were to losing this one—at home nonetheless.
At one point, toward the end of the third, the Cavs sat a healthy 12 points ahead of the Pacers, as Indiana's score flatlined for nearly three minutes. But the fourth quarter bore witness to a surge from a brilliant performance by Paul George and the Pacers, outscoring the Cavs 24-17. In Pacers' second-to-last possession, Paul George pulled up this magnificent beauty with a bit of a gamble from distance:
The game drew close, with a 108-109 scoreline and some great defense by the Pacers to put them in a dangerous position to close this out with the ball and 20 seconds left on the clock. But in the end, the Cavs effectively locked down clutchman Paul George, forcing a shot from C.J. Miles that was just too twisted and off-kilter to land squarely in the basket. The Cavs won Game 1 at home, but boy, did it sure not feel like it.