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Cavs, Pacers Preview

LeBron James is 40-7 in his career in first round playoffs and has never lost a first-round series

CLEVELAND--The Cavaliers and Pacers will tip off Game One at 3 pm at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday. The Pacers won their final five regular season games, while the Cavs lost their final four games and finished as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The headliners for the series are LeBron James and Paul George, but here is a breakdown of the matchups.

Despite the Cavs finishing six games worse than their regular season record of a year ago, it is not time to push the panic button. Added from last year's championship teams are Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams, while missing are Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov, who were both seldom used in the playoffs. 

Point Guard: Kyrie Irving vs. Jeff Teague

Irving averaged 25.2 points a game this season and shot .471 from the field, including .401 from three-point range. Teague averaged 7.8 assists in his first season with Indiana.

Edge: Cavs--Irving is too good to not outplay Teague, unless his knee injury flares up.

Shooting Guard: J.R. Smith vs. Monta Ellis

For all practical purposes, Smith had a very poor season after holding out and signing his big contract. He then missed three months with a broken thumb. Smith averaged just 8.6 points a game and shot just .346 from distance. Ellis averaged 8.5 points. 

Edge: Cavs--Smith should come alive in this series and contribute the way the Cavs planned on him to.

Small Forward: LeBron James vs. Paul George

James averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists and shot .548 from the field. He also had a career-best 13 triple-doubles. George averages 23.7 points a game and is a tremendous player. However, James is still arguably the best all-around player in the NBA. James is 40-7 in his career in first round series in the playoffs and he has never lost a first-round series. 

Edge: Cavs--As good as George is, James is the better player.

Power Forward: Kevin Love vs. Thaddeus Young

Love averaged 19 points a game and 11.1 rebounds. Despite missing a month after knee surgery, Love returned in time to get prepped for the post season. Young averaged 11.1 points a game.

Edge: Cavs--Love is the better player on both ends of the court.

Center: Tristan Thompson vs. Myles Turner

Thompson averaged 9.2 rebounds to Turner's 14.5 points a game. However, Thompson's role is not to score, but to keep the ball alive on the offensive boards.

Edge: Even--Thompson doesn't score a lot, but his overall game is more important to the Cavs than Turner's.

Bench: Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert vs. C.J. Miles, Lance Stephenson 

Edge: Cavs--Korver missed 11 games with a foot injury, but he was the best three-point shooter in the NBA this season, hitting .451 overall. In his 35 games with the Cavs, Korver shot .485 pct. Williams had some good games down the stretch and Frye can get hot at any time. Miles, who played for the Cavs from 2012-14 shot .413 from three-point range and scored 27 points against the Cavs on April 2. He seems to play his best against the Cavs. 

Series Prediction: Last year, the Cavs swept the Pistons and Hawks in their first two rounds and could do the same thing with the Pacers. However, the Cavs have been playing poorly and they could easily drop a game or two On paper, the Cavs would appear to have the advantage at every position, but the game isn't played on paper. With that said we see the series, Cavs 4-1.


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