Kravitz one more chapter to a great book pacers leave cavs bloody and dazed and force a game 7 – bob kravitz – 13 wthr indianapolis 9gag instagram


Of course it’s going to a Game 7. This series between the Pacers and the Cavaliers, it’s been too good, too weird, too compelling to end in just six perfunctory games. Of course a final chapter needs to be written back at Quicken Loans Arena Sunday afternoon, a final chapter, a fitting denouement to a series that has had so many Faustian twists and turns, it should leave you dizzy with anticipation.

Never mind that home teams have won 75 percent of Game 7’s in the NBA playoffs since 1998. The Pacers already have beaten the odds. They weren’t supposed to be a playoff team. They weren’t supposed to take Cleveland to seven games, although some of us (cough) predicted this would happen. They weren’t supposed to beat LeBron James in a closeout game when he had a chance to advance.

This Indiana team, which Victor Oladipo recently vowed would “shock the world,” which was put together with spare parts and has somehow coalesced into one of the league’s more intriguing and competitive teams, has a shot. They have a chance to do something unthinkable, not only knock James and the Cavaliers out of the playoffs, but perhaps chase James out of Cleveland and maybe even the Eastern Conference (but we’re getting ahead of ourselves there).

Think about this: The Pacers have bludgeoned the Cavaliers twice this series, once in Cleveland and again Friday night in Game 6 at Bankers Life, winning 121-87 and sending the circus back to Quicken Loans Sunday afternoon. The Cavs have won by three points, four points and three points, largely due to the almost inhuman heroics of LeBron James. For most, if not all of this series, the Pacers have looked like the better team, and now it comes down to this: The better team in this matchup against the best player in the world. That’s been the major storyline every night these two foes have played, and it will be again Sunday afternoon.

The Pacers, whose 34-point margin of victory was the largest in the franchise’s history, left the Cavaliers bloodied (James was cut over the left eye) and dazed (Kevin Love took a shot to the head). All night, the Pacers were the aggressors, whether it was Darren Collison finally hunting his shot, or Oladipo dunking over James, or Cory Joseph diving to the floor for a loose ball and saving a possession, or Domantas Sabonis having his third straight massive game off the bench, or Lance Stephenson…well, I could go on for several thousand more words.

Friday night, they got exactly what they needed, a tonic for the troops. And they got it from Victor Oh!ladipo, who was a human blur on both ends of the floor. Oladipo not only finished with a triple double (28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists) but did a far better job of defending Cleveland’s 3-point specialist Kyle Korver (six points). While it’s fair to question why Oladipo was on the court late in a blowout – I mean, seriously, with a 29-point lead, 7:34 left and neither James nor Kevin Love on the floor? – his triple-double was just the third in the franchise’s playoff history, and the first since Paul George did it against Atlanta in 2013. He was special in this game after three tough shooting nights, playing the right way, establishing himself as the best player on the floor on a night when James shared the spotlight. And when he banked in that desperation three with the shot-clock expiring, you knew. You just knew…

If you don’t think all the pressure now moves to James and the Cavs, you haven’t been paying attention. The Cavs are supposed to advance, supposed to reach the Finals yet again. The Pacers? Again, house money. They can play free and easy with the knowledge they’ve done far more than anybody had a right to expect.

What else could you ask for in a series? The Pacers come-from-nowhere blowout in Game 1… James’ 46 points and Oladipo’s missed three that would have tied Game 2… The Bogey Legend game in Game 3… A gut-wrenching late loss in Game 4… The Shot, Part 2 in Game 5 in Cleveland… The blowout again in Game 6… and always, always, LeBron versus Lance which, while ordinarily one-sided in James’ favor, still remains worth the price of admission.

The Pacers will be the prohibitive underdog in Game 7, just as they’ve been this entire series, but they have one other thing in their favor, and it’s this: Belief. They have not knelt and kissed The King’s ring yet, and they’re not about to start now.

“I believe we were confident before this series even started,” Oladipo said. “And we’re still confident… These are great men that I play with. Not only great basketball players, but great men of high character who’ve been resilient on the court and off… All of us together, we can be something special.”