Pac­ers open eyes with Game 1 blowout

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY TOM WITH­ERS As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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