CLEVELAND, IN.– The Pacers play two 2016-17 NBA playoff teams in their preseason schedule (Bucks, Cavaliers). They have now defeated both in the first two games of the preseason. The Pacers win again, and beat the Cavaliers 106-102!
If the preseason has any bearing on the regular season, then TJ Leaf is in for an incredible rookie season. Leaf, the 18th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, scored all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter to lead Indiana to a come-from-behind victory in Cleveland.
The Pacers trailed for most of the night until late in the stretch when Leaf completely took charge. Down by 10 with 6:37 left in regulation, Leaf turned it on with three 3-pointers in a 1:56 stretch. The last one gave the Blue and Gold a 100-99 lead with 3:39 left to play.
Leaf later added two free throws then an Al Jefferson layup capped off a 17-2 Pacers run. Cleveland knocked down two free throws to make it a three-point game but then Leaf shut down the Cavs. He sealed the 106-102 victory with one final bucket to give the Pacers a 2-0 record in the preseason.
“This is my second NBA game,” Leaf said after the victory. “It definitely gives me some confidence knowing if I play my role I can be successful.” (Pacers.com)
Leaf led Indiana in scoring with 18 points and added 6 rebounds.
The bench played very well. Domantas Sabonis really shined off the bench scoring 17 with 7 rebounds in only 19 minutes. Sabonis feasted on an injured Cavaliers defense shooting 6-for-8 on field goals, including 1-for-2 from distance. Lance Stephenson added 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists for another productive game.
“Our goal is to get better every game and learn each other. There’s going to be games where the starters won’t play as well and there’s going to be games where we (bench) don’t play as good, we just need to pick each other up and stay focused.” – Lance Stephenson (Pacers.com)
Indiana University Graduate Victor Oladipo led Indiana starters with 14 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Oladipo in his first two games for the Pacers has not disappointed or let down anyone. He is playing very well and is doing exactly what we expected from him.
Myles Turner scored 12 points and recorded two blocked shots.
The surprising thing out of the Pacers win was the fact every starter had a negative plus-minus. That shows how incredible the bench was, with everything producing a positive plus-minus. It’s rare you see that in the NBA these days.
The Pacers as a team played very well overall. Indiana shot 47.0% on field goals, 31.0% on three-pointers, and 70.4% on free-throws. It took less makes and fewer attempts to overcome a Cavaliers team who shot 40-87 overall on field goals.
Cleveland won the rebounding department with 51, compared to the Pacers 41. Indiana only turned the ball over 14 times compared to the Cavs 19 miscues.
Indiana didn’t really dominate in one specific category but played efficient basketball. The only key stat really was the fact the Pacers bench outscored Cleveland’s reserves, 64-36. It only marks the second game of the preseason, but the Pacers are looking very good right now.
UP NEXT: The Pacers take on Detroit on the road for the preseason finale on Monday.