Dribbles: Cavs softer than ever, and pay dearly for it

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Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' 121-87 basketball massacre of a loss to the host Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Friday.

1. Not much to say about this one. Cavs weren't ready and played like it. They stunk in every way possible -- offense, defense, coaching, energy. You name the aspect of the game, and the Cavs were not good.

2. So, on to Game 7 Sunday afternoon.

3. You would think the Cavs have the advantage. LeBron James, home court, lots of reasons to be angry and play determined basketball.

4. But will they? Can they match the Pacers' passion? They've won three games, but the Pacers have played harder and smarter in practically every one of them.

5. And think about this: Two of the Pacers' three wins have been emphatic blowouts (Games 1 and 6).

6. Meanwhile, James and the Cavs have had to scrape by -- even after building some big leads.

7. The Cavs were up by double digits at halftime in Games 2, 3 and 4. They won two of those and lost the other. They built a double-digit lead in the third quarter of Game 5 at home -- and needed a miracle shot from LeBron (and missed goaltending call) to get the victory.

8. That leads me to say the same thing I've been saying about this series all along. Namely, the Pacers look like the better team; the Cavs just have the best player.

9. But LeBron (22 points, seven rebounds, five assists) was a mere mortal in Game 6 and the Cavs got blitzed. Maybe not a great sign moving forward.

10. And where for art thou, Kevin Love? The Cavs' All-Star forward and expected second option finished with seven points and seven rebounds. For the series, he's averaging 11.0 points and 9.8 rebounds, while shooting just 32 percent. All those numbers are down considerably from the regular season.

11. Maybe Love's left thumb is still bugging him. Maybe he just doesn't match up with the more physical Pacers. One thing is for certain, he hasn't been nearly as good without starting point guard George Hill, who's missed the last three games with a bothersome back. It may just be a coincidence -- but no matter how you spin it, Love is not same player in the postseason yet again.

12. Mostly, the Pacers are just tougher all around. It's not really even been close. That is something LeBron, Love and coach Tyronn Lue all conceded. "This has been a physical series," Love said, and the Cavs seemed to cower in their chance to close the series.

13. Lue on that very subject: "If you look at the series, the most physical team has won the game."

14. Another sign the Cavs simply weren't tough enough? They went just 12-of-38 on 3-pointers, showing that they settled too often and refused to take the ball to the basket. They are living and dying by the jump shot.

15. As for LeBron, this is the first time in his entire 15-year career that he will have to deal with a Game 7 in the first round. Until this series, the Cavs were 12-0 in first-round games since James returned in 2014. They're now 15-3.

16. After struggling in the previous two games, Pacers star Victor Oladipo erupted for 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Oladipo was more LeBron than LeBron. In all, seven Pacers scored in double figures -- compared to just three for the Cavs.

17. Oladipo to ESPN: "I just got out of my own way and let it fly."

18. Basically, this game was a nightmare for the Cavs, and they will need to come out and play like they haven't played in this series. They will need to be energetic, tough and not expect LeBron to do it all. They cannot be soft. I'll be honest, I wonder if they can actually do all that.

19. With new players such as Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, and Love continuously disappointing ... well, the Cavs have left themselves open to some doubt.

19. Still, they do have James, and perhaps remarkably, they are already sounding confident. "Game 7. Home floor. This is it," Love said. "We love these type of moments."

20. My prediction? I suspect the Cavs will win. The Pacers don't have a lot of Game 7 experience in that locker room. But when it comes to these Cavs, and the heart of these Pacers, I honestly don't know anymore.