Playoffs Begin April 15; Rough Road to Finals Lies Ahead for Cleveland

Heat stay alive, rally to top Cavaliers 124-121 in OT

"They have carried the load all season".

Indeed, when the Cavaliers are clicking, there aren't many teams that can stop them. That's right, the #2 seeded Cavs. What does that mean?

That double overtime thriller on April 2 was the last game IN lost.

While it is easy to focus only on the Cavaliers' recent lack of positive results, it is important to highlight their season.

Raptors: Lowry scored 13 in his fifth game back after undergoing wrist surgery.

The Cavs problems don't end with the east.

The Cavs will take on their Central Division rivals in the Indiana Pacers (42-40), who managed to lock up a playoff berth as the seventh seed on Wednesday when they defeated the Atlanta Hawks 104-86 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers, with 27 points from Paul George, defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 120-111 on Monday and lie second in the Eastern Conference. No, not even against the Lakers, Suns, Timberwolves, or Kings. But if Boston lose to the Bucks and Cleveland win their finale against Toronto, the Cavs would own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 3-1 head-to-head record with Boston.

If any team can flip the switch, it might be this one. Jones was with the Cavs during the 2016 post-season, and the 12-year veteran provided toughness, experience and quality minutes in the Finals.

The Cavs, locked in a duel with the Boston Celtics for the top seed in the East, nevertheless rested stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Miami. "He's just more game ready".

In many ways, the Cavs are the superior team, but there is something to be said about how both teams seemed to flip roles down the stretch with IN becoming the hottest IN the East while Cleveland staggered.

Because of injuries and new players, this group isn't as close, but the Cavs are hoping that changes in the weeks ahead. Weren't the Raptors just playing without Kyle Lowry for a month?

The 36-year-old Jones made a significant contribution in last year's Finals, when Cleveland rallied from a 3-1 deficit to stun Golden State.

However, Tyler Johnson came off the bench to score 24 points for Miami, who missed a breakaway chance to seal the win in normal time.

Despite all this, the Cavs are still the 2nd favorite team to win it all after the Warriors.

Even as Cleveland stumbled down the stretch, losing its last four and finishing 4-7 over the final 11 games, there is little reason to believe the defending National Basketball Association champions are in trouble.

IndyStar's Clifton Brown and Nate Taylor discuss the Indiana Pacers' upcoming playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I'm happy to be back with my guys again as we go on our stretch to win another championship".

"We're sure as heck not letting up in this series".



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