The Cavs play a crucial game tonight in their first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. They’re in an unfamiliar spot this early in the playoffs, down 0-1 after being blown out on Sunday. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it's a must-win game.
The better team
Pluto says despite the Cavs' rocky season, they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
"For all the Cavs problems -- their coach has been sick, there's been many trades and injuries -- they won 50 games and Indiana won 48. If they lose again [tonight], you've got entitlement and a lack of preparation. I would be challenging their character if I were coaching them."
Dumbfounded in game 1
Pluto says he expects the team will make some adjustments after looking dumbfounded on their home court in Sunday's 98-80 loss.
"They seemed to think they'd be fine. You're not going to be fine playing that way."
A lack of experience?
Following game 1, some reporters and Cavs players attributed the loss to the fact that most of the team has had little playoff experience.
"In my mind I could only think of two players who had never been to the playoffs before -- Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. Nance played well and Clarkson looked nervous."
Pluto says he then looked at the Cavs' media guide.
"Jeff Green, who couldn't make a shot, has been in 39 playoff games. George Hill, starting point guard, shot two air balls in the first half. It was playoff game No. 82 of his career." And Pluto says there are four players on the team who won the title in 2016 -- LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith.
They need their 'ultimate closer'
As for LeBron James, Pluto says the team's ultimate closer needs to step up. Until Sunday, James was 12-0 in opening playoff games. He's also never lost an opening playoff series.
"He's been to seven NBA finals in a row and he wants to keep that streak going. He said this is the best he's felt going into the playoffs physically in several years, even though he played all 82 games. So let's see him go out and play like it."
Lastly, Pluto says the Cavs don't want to head to Indiana down 0-2.
"I've covered games [there], and that place is loud. They love basketball. You lose this game at home and you could get swept. I just can't believe, though, even if they go down 0-2 LeBron is going to go out and get swept. But I also didn't expect he Cavs to be outscored 34-14 or score 80 points [in the first game]. The team averaged 110 points a game all season."