INDIANAPOLIS – Kelan Martin brought a little Hinkle magic to Cleveland on Monday night, and the Pacers really needed it.
Thanks to 25 points off the bench from Martin, the Pacers came back to beat the lowly Cavs, 111-102.
Defensively, Indiana (32-36) held the Cavs to just 42 points in the second half, which made the difference in giving the Pacers a win they really needed.
Martin was the star though as Nate Bjorgren played the Butler star throughout the entire fourth quarter. Martin knocked home 11-of-16 shots and grabbed 7 rebounds.
Domantas Sabonis nearly had another triple-double with 21 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assists. Caris LeVert added 20 points and 10 assists.
Indiana knocked home 50 percent of their shots and 40 percent from behind the arc.
Collin Sexton led a depleted Cavs team with 25 points. Cleveland has now lost 11 straight games
With Indiana’s win and Washington’s loss on Monday, the Pacers climbed back into the 9th spot of the play-in tournament. The Pacers’ magic number to clinch a spot in the play-in is four.
Indiana is still playing without Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) and Myles Turner (toe).
The Pacers have a back-to-back against the 76ers on Tuesday. If Indiana wins the play-in, it’s likely they would face the 76ers in Round One.
Three Things Learned
1. Kelan’s Career Night: Down 7 at halftime to a Cavs team looking like a G-League roster, the final week of the Pacers’ season was teetering. Leave it to Kelan Martin to save the day. Martin, the Butler product, had 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Nate Bjorkgren played Martin the entire fourth quarter and the young forward made some critical buckets and rebounds (7 for the game) to help Indiana stave off the pesky Cavs. Indiana loves the toughness and shot making of Martin. He’s carved out a decent role here late in the season with Jeremy Lamb still sidelined. He was desperately needed on Monday for the Pacers to get the one game they’ll definitely be favored in here in the final week of the year.
2. Rest Dilemma: When the second half of the schedule was released a few months back and the Pacers had the 76ers, Bucks and Lakers waiting in the final week of the season, one might call that very daunting. Of course, with that 3-game stretch, all coming at home, now here, the question is what is the ‘rest’ plan for those teams? The 76ers are 1 game away from locking up the No. 1 seed in the East. They are not coming off a back-to-back. While Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris played last time out, Ben Simmons (back) did not. The Bucks are the opponent on Thursday, and they are neck and neck with the Nets for the No. 2 seed in the East. Milwaukee is playing their important guys, but does have a Monday-Tuesday back-to-back before facing Indiana on Thursday. Lastly, the Lakers are fighting to avoid the play-in out West. Anthony Davis is back and playing with LeBron James looking to return this week. The Lakers will have two nights off before taking on Indiana this Saturday.
3. Last Time Watching Any Pacers? With the final week of the regular season here and some uncertainty regarding how long the Pacers will be in the playoffs, we could be looking at the final games in Indiana for a few guys. Both Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell are hitting free agency coming off very strong seasons. Those two are the only real rotational Pacers in contract years. It’s difficult to see the Pacers retaining both guys given how well they’ve played and the likelihood that they would be looking into cash-in as they approach the age of 30. And then the elephant in the room surrounds whether or not the Pacers will move a big in the offseason. Is this it for Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis?
Pacers Remaining Schedule
-76ers (Tuesday, 5/11 at 8:00 PM)
-Bucks (Thursday, 5/13 at 7:00 PM)
-Lakers (Saturday, 5/15, TBD)
-@Raptors (Sunday, 5/16, TBD)
Eastern Conference Playoff Picture
1. 76ers (47-21, .691)
2. Nets (44-24, .647)
3. Bucks (43-25, .632)
4. Knicks (38-30, .559)
5. Hawks (38-31, .551)
6. Heat (37-31, .544)
7. Celtics (35-33, .515)
8. Hornets (33-35, .485)
9. Pacers (32-36, .471)
10. Wizards (32-37, .464)
Outside Looking In
11. Bulls (29-39, .426)
12. Raptors (27-41, .397)