INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo suffered one of the worst stretches of the season in Games 3-5, shooting a rugged 24% from the field. With his team’s back against the wall on Friday, he more than made up for it.
Oladipo scored 28 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in Indy’s critical 121-87 Game 6 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 34-point margin of victory goes down as a Pacers postseason record, in both the NBA and ABA.
It was still a team effort from Indiana, however, with all five starters and seven Pacers total scoring in double-figures.
The Blue and Gold outscored the Cavs 64-40 in the second half, beating Cleveland so badly that LeBron James did not even play in the fourth quarter.
It was a closeout game for James, who had previously won his past ten playoff games with Cleveland in which he could seal the deal. Cleveland, as a whole, had won their last 13 games when on the verge of advancing.
Game 7 comes from Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday, with tipoff slated for either 1:00 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. (depending on a possible Game 7 in the Utah-Oklahoma City series). It will be James’ first career Game 7 in the first round of the postseason.
The Pacers were in control for much of Game 6, as Oladipo made his presence felt quickly.
The former Indiana University standout scored 15 points before heading to the bench for the first time, powering Indy. Cleveland used a 8-0 run late in the opening period to open up a five-point lead, but the Pacers closed the quarter well and were in front 29-26 after one.
Each side traded the lead early in quarter number two, but Indy’s bench started the build some separation as the frame wore on. Domantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson were key again, helping the home team lead by as many as 11. The Cavs inched back within five, but it was a ten-point Pacers lead at the half.
The third quarter has played an important role in this series and Game 6 was no different. The Blue and Gold outscored the Cavaliers 35-20 in the frame, putting a stamp on an impressive performance.
Up 57-47, a five-point Indiana spurt in the opening 1:20 of the third forced the Cavs to burn a timeout. James tried to will his club back into the game, but could not overcome Indy’s momentum. A 10-3 run shot the Pacers ahead by 20 points, but the home team did not let up, heading into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 25-point edge after a 10-1 run closed the quarter out.
With the game out of reach, Cleveland opted to rest James and a good chunk of their starters for the entire final period. That extra rest may not end up being a factor for Game 7, but it is worth keeping an eye on.
For the Pacers, Oladipo ended up playing a few minutes late to complete his triple-double (he was two assists shy).
James finished with 22 points, as well as seven assists and five boards, but once again did not receive much help. No other Cavs starter scored in double-figures, including just seven points from Kevin Love.
As for Oladipo, he may not have required much help on Friday but he got it anyway.
Off of the bench, Sabonis turned in yet another nice outing with 19 points and six rebounds. 15 points from Darren Collison. 12 points each from Stephenson and Myles Turner. Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic also scored ten points.
All in all, Game 6 served as a resounding response from a Pacers squad that was on the brink of elimination following a rough Game 5 defeat.