The Indiana Pacers grabbed a 2-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 92-90 victory in Game 3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night in what turned out to be the Bojan Bogdanovic show.
For the second straight game, Cleveland took control of the game early on. LeBron James dominated the opening quarter on Wednesday (on his way to 46 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in Game 2), but this time around, it was a team effort (64.7 percent from the floor). A quartet of players had five-plus points, with George Hill (nine points) and James (eight) leading the way.
There were questions as to whether or not Kevin Love would be available for Game 3 after suffering a partially torn ligament in his left thumb on Wednesday, but he was good to go on Friday. He showed no signs of the injury lingering. Entering the game, his highest point total of the series was 15—he had 16 at the half.
Indiana gave Cleveland all it could handle in the first two games due in large part to Victor Oladipo (32 points in Game 1, 22 in Game 2). But it was a different story early in this game as James and Co. figured out how to contain the Pacers All-Star. Oladipo had five points on six shots in the first half while committing four turnovers.
The Cavaliers started pulling away from the Pacers late in the first quarter and played the rest of the half with a lead in the 10-point range until a 10-2 run to close out the second saw their lead swell to 17 entering the break.
Indiana came out of the locker room ready to get back in the game, slowly chipping away at the deficit. The fuel behind the rally? Bogdanovic, Oladipo—who nearly doubled his first-half total with nine points in the third—and strong defense, which held the Cavs to just 12 points in the first 12 minutes after the break.
The comeback continued into the fourth, as the Pacers tied the game early in the quarter—and wound up taking the lead minutes later.
Pacers fans were wondering which team would show up on Friday: the team that sank 11 triples in a blowout Game 1 victory or the one that made shot 6-of-22 from beyond the arc in a three-point loss in Game 2. Well, Bogdanovic had seven treys to overcome the fact that the rest of the team combined for just one.
It was Bogdanovic who put the Pacers in front late in the game with back-to-back threes, one of which wound up turning into a four-point play.
James (who finished with 28 points) would not let his team go away quietly, though, as he scored seven consecutive points to tie the game. But there was just too much Bogey (season-high 30 points):
After surrendering 57 points in the first half, Indiana's defense clamped down and allowed just 33 over the final two quarters. That combined with Bogdanovic's hot shooting proved to be enough to allow the Pacers to defend home court.
Love finished with 19 points for Cleveland, while Oladipo had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds to complement Bogdanovic.
Game 4 tips off Sunday in Indianapolis at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.