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    Here's why Cavs are headed for second round of playoffs - and why Pacers aren't

    Apr 27, 2018
    Despite well-documented struggles with injuries, personnel changes, coach Tyronn Lue's illness, and alleged team strife, the Cavaliers are second-round bound. Thanks to LeBron James. AP
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    CHICAGO - I played organized basketball at Colegio del Santo Nino where I soiled the sacred grounds with a hideous triple-single average, a Hall-of-Shame career that, as I remember, netted about two points, two rebounds and two turnovers a game.

    I played so little I pulled a muscle sitting on the hard bench, but the game taught me so much.

    Adversity happens to all teams and the way it is handled separates the good from the bad. Time (shot and game clock) and awareness (timeout and foul situations, etc) help determine a contest's outcome. Knowing these details make a complex game simple.

    The Indiana Pacers poorly mismanaged time and timeouts, in the last three seconds of Game Five, causing them great grief.

    Prior to LeBron James' buzzer-beating trey, Cleveland didn't have a field goal in the final 7:19 of the fourth quarter and they were held scoreless for the last 4:38.

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    But the Cavaliers faced the drought with poise. That's what champions do.

    The Pacers, meanwhile, crumbled under pressure. That's what raw, untested challengers do.

    Yes, LeBron goal-tended on Victor Oladipo's potentially game-winning layup but since none of the referees blew the whistle, it wasn't reviewable per the NBA's instant-replay rules.

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    Still, the Pacers had a good chance of forcing overtime but they diminished their chances by not calling their last timeout and not using their foul to give.

    "I take the blame. We had a timeout left and a foul to give. We leave here with both," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan told The Indianapolis Star.

    Oladipo can cry a river about the missed goal-tending call but in a game that had a combined 156 possessions, 43 fouls and 28 turnovers he can't be a prisoner of one moment.

    Here's why the Pacers lost Game Five, 98-95, and ultimately the series in seven games.:

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    After taking a 56-49 halftime lead, they started the third quarter flat and allowed the Cavaliers to take control with a 19-3 run..

    After turning the ball over just once in the first and second quarters, the Pacers turned the ball over 13 times the rest of the way, including three in the fourth quarter which was crucial in a back-and-forth slugfest that witnessed nine ties and six lead changes.

    The Pacers surrendered Game 5 because Oladipo was cold as a woman's heart - 2-for-15 from the field for just 12 points. After exploding for 32 points in Game One, Oladipo has regressed mightily scoring just 22 in Game Two, 18 in Game Three and 17 in Game Four.

    THE KING IS ALIVE AND WELL. Despite his team's well-documented struggles with injuries, personnel changes, coach Tyronn Lue's illness, alleged team strife, plus whatever else you want to add to the list, the Cavaliers are second-round bound. Thanks to LeBron James.

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    With his team needing to be rescued once again after shooting just 31 of 75 from the field and 10 of 32 from long distance, The King delivered with 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He made 14 of 14 shots and sank all 15 of his free throws.

    Because of his singular brilliance, the Cavs won on a night when J.R. Smith went scoreless after bricking all of his eight field goals, Kevin Love made only two of 11 shots, and starting point guard George Hill did not play because of a bad back.

    LeBron's total haul through five games is a ridiculous 174 points, 57 rebounds and 40 assists

    LeBron is the Pacers' real problem, not a botched call that happens all the time in a game that is played on warp speed.

    Sports is not always fair and that is why athletes have to oftentimes create their own luck through hard work, patience and dedication.

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    Just like our so-called life, we can only worry about the things we can control.

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    Despite well-documented struggles with injuries, personnel changes, coach Tyronn Lue's illness, and alleged team strife, the Cavaliers are second-round bound. Thanks to LeBron James. AP
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