Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James vs. Indiana Pacers: Crowquill

In it, NC State guard Dereck Whittenburg calls 7-4 Virginia center Ralph Sampson, "The Monster". IN was on roll through April 1, but did lose three of its final five games heading into the postseason. "And this time he's mad".

Preparation for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been going on for a couple of weeks now for the Pacers' scouting staff.

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles the ball while defended by Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 8, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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. The difference has been that, come playoff time, James and his team morph into a different sort of team.

Can it be done? "I guess it's good to be wanted".

Oladipo scored 16 in the first half to lead the Pacers to a 55-38 edge at the break. The presumed Most Improved Player of the Year has been the team's unquestioned best player.

The Cavs are a tough team to decipher heading into the postseason. Kevin Love is the only other All-Star on the roster. The Indiana Pacers are allowing 34.9 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 42.4 rebounds per game. It was only the fourth time in the history of the franchise that in had a winning road record (21-20).

When playing the Pacers, one of the more effective strategies they have used has been to "blitz" the dribbler to defuse a potential pick-and-roll run by Oladipo. IN came in 15-6 in the playoffs when it wins the opener. Only the Houston Rockets and Nets have made more 3s and expect another 3-point barrage from them in this series.

The start of the National Basketball Association postseason means two major things for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Love joined the 14-time All-Star in OH that same offseason after being traded from the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, who hadn't made the postseason since 2004. The Pacers tore apart the Cavs' defense, as well.

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But for the first time in a long time, LeBron looks like he's met his kryptonite in the form of the Pacers. Eastern Conference and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. NBA Central.

Cleveland had won 14 straight first-round games, last losing on April 22, 2010, the last season of James' first stint with the Cavs.

James returned to Cleveland during the summer of 2014 following his four-year stint with the Miami Heat.

But there was that Monster to deal with. The Indiana Pacers have a team full of roughriders and won't enter this series intimated one bit. He's going to get a lot of plays ran for him. But the Cavs can be suspect defensively.

Not exactly the easiest opponent for the Blue-and-Gold, is it?

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.

The Pacers picked up where they left off in the third quarter as they took a 63-41 lead following a Thaddeus Young layup.

His 21-game winning streak in the first round included sweeps over: Bucks ('13), Bobcats ('14), Celtics ('15), Pistons ('16), Pacers ('17).

"They took advantage of everything what we wanted to do", James said."They were more physical at the point of attack and were more precise with what they wanted to do". I'm not comparing it to past year. All I can say, don't count out these underdogs.

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