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April 21st, 2017

LeBron James Leads Cavs to Overcome Largest Halftime Deficit in Playoff History Against Pacers

Griffin Ellams @GriffinEllams
LeBron James

LeBron James (Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Game 3 got out of hand rather quickly as Indiana found themselves up 10 at the end of the 1st quarter, scoring 37 points to Cleveland’s 27. The game ended up being in favor of Indiana the entire first half as they continued their efficient dominance until halftime arrived, where they lead 74-49. After one half of basketball, the Pacers shot 24-45 (56.8%) from the field, 10-17 (58.8%) from beyond the arc, and 14-14 (100%) from the free throw line. This was uncharacteristic of Cleveland, who had swept their first round opponents the previous two seasons. They found themselves in a hole. LeBron had 13 points on 45% shooting as he passed Kobe Bryant for 3rd on the all-time NBA playoff scoring list and also tied the NBA record for 20 consecutive first round playoff victories. He didn’t have much contribution from his supporting cast in the first half though.

The second half went a little bit differently. LeBron scored 13 points in the 3rd quarter as the Cavs cut a 26 point deficit down to 7 with the score being 91-84 at the end of the 3rd. Kyrie had a rough shooting night as he went 4/17 from the field through 3 quarters. The Cavs ended the quarter on a 17-4 run.

With the Cavs’ incredible run having no end in sight, they took a 103-101 lead over midway through the 4th quarter. Paul George responds with a three-pointer to go up 1 with 5:15 left in the 4th quarter and then LeBron retaliated with an emphatic dunk. The Cavs didn’t trail for the remainder of the game after this. LeBron continued to be the spark of this run as both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were benched for the entire 4th quarter. Channing Frye, JR Smith, and Kyle Korver were all of great assistance down the stretch. Frye and JR each contributed 13 points while Korver shot 4/5 from beyond the arc.

As LeBron recorded his 17th career triple-double in the playoffs, his game line included: 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks on 51.9% shooting from the field. He scored 28 points in the first half, including 15 in the 4th quarter. He stepped his game up to the highest level to overcome what looked like an approaching blowout loss without the help from his All-Star teammates when it mattered most. Paul George posted 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists but on poor efficiency. It simply just wasn’t enough to impede Cleveland’s spectacular 2nd half.

The Cavaliers are now capable of handing the Pacers their first four-game sweep since joining the NBA.

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