February 06, 2015

The Cleveland Cavaliers can move to the brink of wrapping up the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed by completing a season sweep of Indiana.

If the Pacers can prevent that Wednesday night, they'll get one step closer to reaching the postseason.

Cleveland (56-22) remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Toronto by routing Milwaukee 109-80 on Tuesday. J.R. Smith now owns the franchise single-season mark with 197 3-pointers after going 7 of 11 from beyond the arc and scoring 21 points, giving him a combined 48 in his past two games.

"We understand who we are and what type of team we have to be. It's all coming together at the right time fortunately," Smith said. "We're always looking to get better, so I can't say that we're there. We're close. We're just trying to get better every day.

"We've got another one against Indiana so we'll see what we can do."

If the Cavaliers claim a fifth consecutive victory and fourth in a row on the road Wednesday, it would mean the Raptors could at best only tie the Cavaliers atop the conference. Toronto currently owns the tiebreaker by virtue of winning two of this season's three matchups.

Cleveland appears to have a promising chance to earn that win considering its four straight victories over the Pacers (41-36), but the Cavaliers needed overtime to end their 10-game skid in Indianapolis on Feb. 1.

That 111-106 victory also marked their largest margin in the three wins this season, including a 100-96 triumph at home in the latest Feb. 29. Cleveland hasn't swept the season series since 2007-08.

"I think we played some decent games against them but haven't been able to close them out," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Hopefully, we can do better (Wednesday)."

Indiana took advantage of matchups against eliminated teams to earn two road victories this weekend. A 92-87 win over New York on Sunday coupled with Chicago's 108-92 loss in Memphis on Tuesday has the Pacers 2 1/2 games ahead of the Bulls for one of the East's final two playoff spots.

Paul George helped boost his team into that spot by shaking off a sore left ankle and converting the tiebreaking basket with 23.6 seconds left against the Knicks.

"I've been pretty banged up the past couple of days," George said. "I still feel fine enough to guard. There are going to be some things I can and can't do, some limitations. I feel fine otherwise."

The Pacers moved one-half game ahead of Detroit for seventh place - and potentially the chance to avoid facing the Cavaliers in the first round - with the Pistons' 107-89 defeat in Miami on Tuesday.

Monta Ellis totaled 53 points in his two games in Cleveland this season but was held to a more pedestrian 14 on 5-of-18 shooting in the home defeat in February. George had 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting while George Hill matched a season high with 23.

Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who returned from a sprained ankle Tuesday, has totaled 47 points in his last two games against the Pacers and 54 in his past two in Indiana.

You May Like