NBA Playoffs Game 1 on ABC

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  Victor Oladipo Pens Heartfelt Players Tribune Essay

James had his streak of 21 straight first-round playoff victories snapped as the Pacers took it to Cleveland on their home floor.

Better protect those chins, Pacers.

The Cavaliers host the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series on Sunday.

Cleveland did win the final matchup between the two teams, but all four games were before the Isaiah Thomas trade, so there isn't a whole lot to glean from the season series. Would he dump his hometown team and head to Los Angeles after an early playoff exit?

The Pacers will have to beat the James gang four times over the next couple of weeks.

The Miami Heat, the No. 2 seed that season, lost to the No. 7 seed New York Knicks in Game 4 of the first round. They were more physical, more energetic and more composed. But we went through a lot in the offseason as well. From February's trade deadline on, the Cavs were slightly better (108.9) and jumped 10 spots to 19th overall.

How Did the Season Series Go? It's when James shines most.

Is Cleveland's quest for a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals as perilous as it appears, or is LeBron just toying with everyone? The playoffs this time around promises to be a spectacle and we have many interesting matchups to look forward to.

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When these same teams met in the first round a year ago, my model gave the Pacers just a 16 percent chance of pulling the upset.

And why not, The Monster will get the benefit of the doubt on ever whistle and he is still the best player in the world. With no true rim protector and Love slated to start at center once again, the Pacers should be able to get into the paint and score at will.

The only player in the National Basketball Association this year to average at least 9.0 rebounds and can at least 125 triples, Love notched a double-double in three of the meetings against in this year and finished with 20 points in the game that he didn't. He put Oladipo back in the game and the Pacers' All-Star guard knocked down a 3-pointer and a 20-foot jumper during a 12-2 Pacers run.

"My responsibility has been the same for quite a while now: Go out and try to dominate".

The Cleveland Cavaliers face a familiar foe in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Cleveland's biggest and most important piece, however, raises none of those concerns. Cleveland won 4-0 by an average of four points per game.

The Pacers have been one of the biggest surprises this season due to their offensive explosiveness and the energy that they have played with all season long. He's grateful for a fresh start. The Cavaliers were abysmal shooting the ball and their inability to get anything going from someone other than James for the most part did them in. Right now, how I feel, I feel where I need to be and I'm healthy going into the postseason - as healthy as you can be going into the postseason. LeBron James and Kevin Love are arguably the two best players in the entire series. He's still doing it. This time, though, Stephenson claims he has no plans to rankle King James.

"I don't have friends on the court anyway", Lance said after practice. Even one of James' teammates admits that it's hard not to think about the upcoming decision.

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