Cleveland Cavaliers fans are getting a heavy dose of what Cavs basketball would be like next year if LeBron James leaves Cleveland. As James sat for the second straight night, the Cavaliers lost to the Indiana Pacers at home, 116-113.
For the second straight night, the Cavs gave up over one hundred points without their defensive leader in James. The Cavs though have not been suffering on the offensive end, shooting 46.1% from the floor and 85% from the free throw line. But with no James, no Mo Williams, and no Antawn Jamison, what can you expect from the backups against the Pacers starting five.
It has been the Sebastian Telfair show for the past couple games, as he led the Cavaliers with 21 points and four assists off the bench in 29 minutes of work. Telfair scored eight points in the his first Cavaliers appearance the night before against the Bulls.
“For being a new guy and being a young guy, you can feel the leadership qualities that he does have. In order to be a true point guard in this league and to be effective and to be a good one, you have got to have that intangible skill,” said Cavs coach Mike Brown after the game.
But the story of the night as the Cavaliers defense. Letting the Pacers shoot over fifty percent from the field and letting Pacers star Danny Granger score 36 points on just 17 shot attempts was not what Brown had in mind.
“I thought Indiana got in the teeth of our defense too many times which caused us to help. Sometimes we were over-helping, but they got in the teeth of our defense too easy tonight on their dribble penetration and dribble drives.”
All five of the Pacers starters finished in double digits in points as Troy Murphy scored 14 and both Brandon Rush and Earl Watson scored 16. Mike Dunleavy also contributed ten points off the bench.
Brown stated before the game that James might not play for the rest of the regular season, so Cavs fans should not look for this season to end on a winning note.
But with the overall best record in the NBA, all the Cavs can hope for is to stay healthy and get ready for their first round playoff matchup next week.