Pacers open eyes with Game 1 blowout
Cleveland — They’ve spent the entire season on the fringe, virtually ignored by all but the most savvy fans and NBA insiders.
They don’t have any household names or any superstars on their roster, just one All-Star and a role player best known for foolish on-court antics.
But as the Indiana Pacers strolled quietly into practice on Monday at Quicken Loans Arena, a building they silenced less than 24 hours earlier with an eye-catching playoff win in Game 1 over the Cavaliers, there was something unmistakable about them.
They’re confident — they’re no longer a secret.
“People didn’t expect us to do this well,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said, leaning back in a cushioned chair at the end of Indiana’s bench. “We like that. That’s what kind of drives our motor a little bit, being overlooked and no one expecting us to do what we’re currently doing.”
The Pacers were the better team — by far — on Sunday, leading from tip to final horn in a 9880 victory over Cleveland that snapped a 21-game winning streak in the first round for LeBron James, who had never opened the playoffs before with a loss and figures to be more aggressive in Game 2 Wednesday.
Led by Victor Oladipo’s 32point, tough-shot-after-toughshot performance, Indiana outplayed, outhustled and outlasted Cleveland, giving the Pacers a 4-1 record this season against the three-time defending conference champions.
This might have been a surprise to outsiders, but it was just another day on the office hardwood for the Pacers, who won 48 games during the regular season and were the only team to beat Golden State twice.
and Didn’t know that, did you? Well, most of Indiana’s accomplishments have been woefully under-publicized. That’s what happens when only one of your games is shown on national TV, you’re playing in a mid-market city and you appeared to throw away the future by trading away your biggest star, Paul George, last summer.
But the lack of attention doesn’t faze Pacers. It fuels them.
“They underestimate us,” Lance Stephenson said, referring to everyone, not just those Cleveland fans taunting the Pacers on Sunday.
They’ve been successful by following coach Nate McMillan’s simple formula: share the ball, stop your man and stay connected.
“We’ve been playing like this all year,” said Oladipo, the team’s rising star who has been on a mission since coming over from Oklahoma City in the deal for George. “Been playing hard on both ends all year. It just hasn’t been magnified.”
Mitchell’s status uncertain
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has a left foot bruise and his status is uncertain for Game 2 of the Western Conference playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Mitchell left Oklahoma City’s 116-108 win Game 1 on Sunday after stubbing his toe in the third quarter, and he played sporadically the rest of the way. A team spokesman said Mitchell had an MRI on Monday, and the team will provide a status update today.
When asked if he was concerned about missing Game 2 on Wednesday, Mitchell said, “Not at all.”
“I can walk,” he said. “I think tomorrow will be the deciding factor, but I feel fine. I feel fine right now.”
Mitchell is one of the league’s top rookies. He averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists during the regular season. He had 27 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1.
Greer dead at 81
Hal Greer, a Hall of Fame guard and the 76ers’ career leading scorer, has died.
The Sixers said Greer died Saturday night in Arizona after a brief illness. He was 81.
Greer spent 15 seasons with the Syracuse Nationals and 76ers and finished his career with a record 21,586 points.
He’s also the 76ers’ career leader in field goals, field goals attempted, games and minutes played.
Greer was the first player to have his number retired (15) by the 76ers in 1976. Greer also became the first player to be honored with a sculpture on 76ers Legends Walk at the team training complex in 2017.