Cavs hold on, Irving scores 37


The Cavaliers won 117-111.

Game 3 is Thursday at Indiana. Although the Cavs have never lost the previous 12 playoff series when they took a 2-0 lead, George thinks the Pacers can rally from the seemingly daunting deficit.

Irving put an exclamation point on the period by sinking a three-pointer over Indiana's Lance Stephenson, before trash-talking the famously loud-mouthed Pacers star.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving, right, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner (33) in the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 17, 2017, in Cleveland.

Pacers: Jeff Teague finished with 15 points and seven assists. Their 74 first-half points were a Pacers playoffs record. He was getting in good position, but the refs, for whatever reasons, kept going against Love, incorrectly smacking him with two blocking fouls. The No. 2 seed jumped out to a big lead, the No. 7 seed made a tough comeback, but ultimately the better team pulled away in the end. Defensive breakdowns. Bad shots.

That flip could be coming soon according to LeBron James. It was that quasi-trap for the Cavs, who left Quicken Loans Arena with a 2-0 series lead, though the wins were wobbly.

Cleveland was led by their three-headed monster with Kyrie Irving scoring a game-high 37 points, Kevin Love's 27 and LeBron James' 25 points.

George led IN in points (32), rebounds (8) and assists (7) on Monday, which brought his series averages to 30.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists while he shot 48.7 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3.

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PRESSURE IS ON: Dwight Howard played 29 minutes and was a mere 2 for 6 from the floor in Game 1. The Blazers were without center Jusuf Nurkic , who is recovering from a right leg fracture.

However, the defending champions, following a pattern that began late in the regular season, almost gave away an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers crawled within four in the final minute before Cleveland closed it out at the foul line.

James scored 13 points in the third quarter to get the Cavs within 91-84. I have to wonder if we'll notice when the Cavs turn it on, or if this is what they are satisfied with. "We're right there of what we know we can become, and we'll figure it out". So, like I told you, I'd much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. The Cleveland Cavaliers are averaging 113 points on 54.5 percent shooting and allowing 109.5 points on 50.3 percent shooting. Game 3 takes place in Memphis on Thursday.

IN erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes left in Game 1, and then in Game 2 cut the Cavs' 18-point lead after three quarters to four with 19.5 seconds left on a George 3-pointer.

Twenty-one bench points. That was all the 10-man reserve squad of Cleveland could muster after the starters combined for 96. Coach Nate McMillan made a lineup change, inserting former Cavs player C.J. Miles into the starting rotation.

James delivered 28 second-half points as he took over the contest in the fourth quarter.

Turner acknowledged he must get more physical in this series, and Stephenson said he needs to find the balance between passion and playing out of control. "It's our offense. I think we get exhausted at times".

"Kyrie had a big quarter and we went to a matchup trying to cool him off". George and company look to defend home court and earn at least one more trip back to Cleveland, while the Cavs hope to get even closer to the level LeBron believes his team can reach.