April 11, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA: Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson (13) goes up for a rebound as Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) and center Roy Hibbert (55) defend during the first half in the game at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE

Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers Preview

No, this isn’t a double post. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be squaring off against the Indiana Pacers for the second time in three nights on Friday. The difference is that the Cavaliers are traveling to Indiana this time to Bankers Life Fieldhouse at take on the Pacers at 7 p.m. After losing the first meeting (98-91 on Dec. 30) and the third meeting (104-98 on Wednesday) in overtime, the Cavaliers are have a chance to tie up the series with a win on Friday.

The Cavaliers have played the third-place Pacers very close this season, as it seems to be a favorable matchup on many levels for the Cavaliers. The bench seems to be the strongpoint against Indiana, which may be due to the strength of the Pacer starters.

And now that Darren Collison is likely to start, the Cavaliers are going to struggle even more. Cleveland’s defense let four Pacer starters score in double figures. Each of them played between 37-41 minutes, outscoring the four highest-scoring Cavalier players 70-46. With Collison in the lineup it will be a far taller task to taking down the consistent Indiana starting lineup.

Cavaliers (19-37, 9-18 away):

Offensive Efficiency – 98.7 (25th)

Pace – 94.1 (13th)

Turnover Ratio – 24.9 (19th)

Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.5 (28th)

Defensive Efficiency – 105.2 (25th)

Pacers (36-22, 19-8 home):

Offensive Efficiency – 102.9 (13th)

Pace – 93.1 (19th)

Turnover Ratio – 23.9 (13th)

Effective Field Goal Percentage – 47.6 (23rd)

Defensive Efficiency – 100.2 (10th)

The Cavaliers find themselves only on a one game skid, much better than one of their six multiple-game losing streaks they’ve had this season. The Pacers find themselves on a two-game winning streak after winning against the Cavs on Wednesday in an overtime thriller.

Overtime wouldn’t have even been an option if it wasn’t for the Cavs most recent star Lester Hudson. Hudson missed a trey late in the game while the Cavs were down by four and forward Tristan Thompson grabbed the arrant shot attempt and brought the hammer down with a foul. He converted on the and-one free throw, which brought Cleveland within one point of the Pacers.

After George Hill missed his first free throw attempt, he converted on the next one putting Indiana up by one. Then it was all in Lesanity’s hands from there. Almost everyone should have knew that Hudson was going to be given the ball in the clutch. Hudson drove down the lane and hit a five-foot floater with a little over a second to go.

Hudson will have to carry a heavier load if he wants to deliver a victory for the Wine and Gold. Going up against Collison will only make scoring off the bench harder for Hudson, who has gone four straight games with 23, 26, 25 and 19 points respectively. Can Hudson continue his Lin-like streak? Let’s just hope his doesn’t end like Lin’s.

With 10 games left in the season it doesn’t make sense for head coach Byron Scott to play Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving. Even if they are ready to come back Andy could use the rest to make sure he’s healthy for next season and Irving already has the Rookie of the Year award in his hands. Kyrie has nothing left to prove, so I think it’s best that he sits out the rest of April.

It’s basically crunch time for the Cavaliers roster right now. Antawn Jamison, Hudson, Donald Sloan, Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels are all fighting for spots on the Cavaliers roster next season. These next 10 games are going to be crucial, and a matchup against Indiana is a perfect stage for these players to prove their worth.

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Tags: Antawn Jamison Cleveland Cavaliers Darren Collison Donald Sloan George Hill Indiana Pacers Lester Hudson Manny Harris Samardo Samuels

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