Buddy Hield, Caris LeVert
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers at Cavaliers

Sunday, April 2 at 8:00 PM ET at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Pacers at Cavaliers
Game Preview

The Pacers will play their penultimate road game of the season on Sunday night in Cleveland. It will be the final meeting of the year between Indiana (34-44) and the Cavaliers (48-30). Cleveland has won two of the previous three games.

The Blue & Gold have turned their focus to developing their young players over the last couple weeks of the season and the fledgling Pacers -- alongside veterans T.J. McConnell and Buddy Hield -- were able to come away with an impressive victory on Friday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Indiana outplayed a full-strength Oklahoma City team fighting for a playoff berth down the stretch, withstanding a 39-point outing from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to come away with a 121-117 win.

McConnell was a major catalyst off the bench, tallying 21 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, but the Pacers' young players also stepped up in a big way. Rookie point guard Andrew Nembhard had 18 points and six assists and fellow rookie Bennedict Mathurin scored 15. Third-year big man Jalen Smith had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds, while second-year center Isaiah Jackson had 13 points and two blocks off the bench.

The Cavs are coming off a 130-116 loss to the Knicks on Friday night in Cleveland in a game that was likely a preview of a first-round playoff series. Cleveland has already clinched a playoff berth and is all but locked into the fourth seed in the East, while New York is likely to secure the fifth seed.

The Cavs are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018 after adding All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to their young core in a blockbuster trade over the summer. Mitchell has lived up to expectations. The 26-year-old out of the University of Louisville ranks seventh in the league in scoring, averaging a career-high 27.9 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from 3-point range while also tallying 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per contest.

In addition to Mitchell, Cleveland also relies heavily on point guard Darius Garland (21.7 points and 7.8 assists), forward Evan Mobley (16.4 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks), and center Jarrett Allen (14.4 points, 9.9 boards, and 1.2 blocks), all of whom are 24 and younger.

Projected Starters

Pacers:  G - Andrew Nembhard, G - Bennedict Mathurin, F - Aaron Nesmith, F - Jordan Nwora, C - Jalen Smith

Cavaliers: G - Darius Garland, G - Donovan Mitchell, F - Caris LeVert, F - Lamar Stevens, C - Evan Mobley

Injury Report

Pacers: Myles Turner - questionable (sore left ankle), Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress fracture), Chris Duarte - out (sore left ankle), Tyrese Haliburton - out (right ankle sprain/sore left elbow)

Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen - questionable (right groin strain), Isaac Okoro - out (sore left knee), Dylan Windler - out (left foot sprain)

Last Meeting

Feb. 5, 2023: The Cavs closed the second quarter with a 26-9 run to open up a double-digit lead, then never let Indiana get back within single digits the rest of the way, rolling to a 122-103 win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Myles Turner scored a team-high 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds on Sunday for Indiana while also blocking three shots to move into third place in franchise history.

But the Pacers simply didn't have enough firepower to hang with the Cavs, who had all five starters score at least 17 points.

Darius Garland led Cleveland with 24 points and six assists while going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Isaac Okoro scored 20 points, Donovan Mitchell added 19 points and six dimes, and Jarrett Allen (18 points and 13 rebounds) and Evan Mobley (17 points and 10 boards) both recorded double-doubles.

Tyrese Haliburton recorded a double-double for Indiana in the loss, tallying 15 points and 11 assists. Buddy Hield finished with 16 points and five rebounds, going 4-for-9 from 3-point range.

  • The Pacers have dropped their last three regular season games in Cleveland.
  • With a win on Sunday, the Cavs would take the season series with Indiana for the second straight year. Prior to that, the Pacers had won the season series with Cleveland for four straight seasons from 2017-18 to 2020-21.
  • Nembhard became the second rookie in franchise history to tally 300 assists in their debut season on Friday against Oklahoma City. Nembhard now has 305 assists on the season, second only to Jamaal Tinsley, who dished out a franchise-record 647 assists as a rookie in 2001-02.
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)


The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks on Wednesday, April 5 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>