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How Cavaliers stole momentum back from Pacers with Game 4 win

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 4/23/2018 Jeff Zillgitt
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The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 104-100 in Game 4 on Sunday, tying their first-round series at 2-2.

BOX SCORE: CAVALIERS 104, PACERS 100

The Cavs regained home-court advantage, and it’s now a best-of-3 series with Game 5 on Wednesday in Cleveland (7 p.m. ET, TNT).

It was a must-win for the Cavs, who couldn’t afford to fall behind 3-1. But it may have been a must-win for the Pacers, too, who made their path to the second round more difficult with the loss.

Fourth-seeded Cleveland still has work to do, but the fifth-seeded Pacers must now play two of their final three games on the road if the series goes seven games. It won’t be easy. LeBron James has never lost a first-round series. Yet, the Pacers have proven themselves capable of winning the series, too.

LeBron James does what he does

James, who played the entire second half, had 23 of his game-high 32 points in the first half, and he finished the night with 13 rebounds and seven assists. It was his 100th game with at least 30 points, trailing Michael Jordan’s 109 for most in NBA history.

As teams in the East know so well, it’s difficult to beat a James-led team four times in a series. James has advanced to the NBA Finals in seven consecutive seasons. This might be his toughest first-round series since beating Washington in six games in 2008.

The others had just enough for the Cavs

The Cavs still need more production from players such as Jeff Green (eight points), Kyle Korver (18 points), Larry Nance Jr. (six points), Jordan Clarkson (12 points) and Rodney Hood (six points), but they delivered enough – namely Korver, who found his shot in the second half. Korver made two key three-pointers late in the fourth quarter – one giving Cleveland a 94-93 lead and the other giving the Cavs a 99-95 lead.

Without Korver, who was 4-for-14 on threes coming into the game, the Cavs might be looking at a 3-1 deficit.

If the Cavs want to take a 3-2 lead – and their first lead of the series – they need Korver to continue to play this way and a better performance from Kevin Love, who had just five points on 2-for-10 shooting.

The Cavs, who have struggled from three-point range, made just 35.3% of their shots from beyond the arc, including 4-of-10 from J.R. Smith, who had 12 points.

What the Pacers didn’t do

The Pacers weren’t bad in Game 4 – just not good enough. They overcame a 16-point first-half deficit and had a fourth-quarter lead. But the Pacers shot just 43% from the field, and All-Star Victor Oladipo had just 17 points on 5-for-20 shooting. Bojan Bogdanovic, the Pacers’ star in Game 3 with seven three-pointers, made just two threes in Game 4.

Give the Pacers credit for this: They have a relentless approach on both ends and play with confidence regardless of the score. The Pacers won’t go away easily or quietly, and if the Cavs want to win this series, they need to match Indiana’s intensity.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

Related slideshow: 2018 NBA playoffs (Provided by photo services)

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