The last time LeBron James faced a non-Finals Game 7 was during the 2013 East finals, when he and the Miami Heat eventually took down the Indiana Pacers in the decider. Now, five years later, this time with a mere spot in the East semis on the line, he’ll face early elimination against the Pacers once again, as he and the Cleveland Cavaliers host Victor Oladipo and Co. in the win-or-go-home matchup.
The game is scheduled to tip Sunday at about 1:10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on ABC. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including both ESPN and ABC (live in select markets). You can sign up right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: ESPN and ABC (live in select markets) are both included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
WatchESPN: If one of the above services doesn’t include ABC live in your market, you can still watch the game on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. Games on ABC can be watched for free without cable if you have a participating internet service provider (ISP), but even if that doesn’t work, you can still use your Hulu or DirecTV Now credentials to sign in and watch the game on the ESPN platforms.
The belief that LeBron is playing with his worst supporting cast since his first stint in Cleveland has been reaffirmed this series. While he has averaged a silly 32.7 points (53.6 percent shooting with a 57.6 effective field-goal percentage), 10.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game this series, Kevin Love has been the team’s next best scorer at 11.0 per contest. No one has really provided a consistent second threat, evidenced by the team’s 100.6 offensive rating (second-worst in the playoffs).
Still, though, having that LeBron guy is a pretty significant advantage. He poured in 46 when the Cavs needed a Game 2 win. He dropped 44 and buried the game-winning three at the buzzer in Game 5. In Game 7’s in his career, he’s 4-2 with 33.2 points per game.
If someone is going to put his team on his shoulders in a must-win situation, it’s the guy who has been to seven straight finals and will do anything to make sure that streak doesn’t come to an end.
But the Pacers, for large stretches of this series, have looked like the better overall team. While Cleveland’s three wins have come by three, four and three points respectively, the Pacers won Game 1 by 18 and Game 6 on Friday night by 34. Victor Oladipo logged his first postseason triple-double in the latter one, tallying 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
“I just went out there and played. I did everything with confidence. I just played read and react,” Oladipo said. “This game is over. It means absolutely nothing right now.”
Oladipo, who had a breakthrough season, has continued to cement himself as one of the league’s best two-way guards this series, averaging 21.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. But whereas Cleveland has backed up its star with a lack of scoring punch, the Pacers have five more players–Bojan Bogdanovic, Myles Turner, Domanatas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young and Lance Stephenson–who are averaging at least 10.8 points per game.
The LeBron factor plus home-court advantage has the Cavs as significant 5.5-point favorites to advance, but that’s hardly indicative of the way the Pacers have played this series. Don’t be surprised if this one comes down to the final few possessions.
Source: Heavy Sports