Home of the hopeless: Pacers vs. Cavaliers preview.

By Jon R. LaFollette (@JonFilet) and Dave Searle (@DaveSearle)

Jon: Let’s begin with a song, shall we?

Why did I pick the Fab Four as the Pacers prepare to play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers?

This tune was perched atop the Billboard charts when a major professional sports team in Cleveland last won a championship.

The day was December 27, 1964. Jim Brown led the Browns to a pulverizing 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts.

How ironic is it the number one song was called “I Feel Fine”? At the time I’m sure many Clevelanders felt optimistic about the future of their teams. Nearly 50 years of heartbreak, however, has led to apathy and Tyler Zeller playing for their NBA team.

On our preview post for the New Orleans game, you shared a nifty story about your time in The Big Easy. I’ve got a story about my time spent in Cleveland, albeit a rather depressing one.

I was visiting a few years ago around St. Patrick’s Day. A life-long Naptown native, I’m used to meager celebrations: a dyed canal and a modest parade. Cleveland, however, goes hard. To be blunt, I’ve never seen so much puke casually strewn about public sidewalks in my life. Everyone was blasted. Better yet, IT WAS A THURSDAY! Shouldn’t those people have been at work?

I’ll never forget the following quote a nice, and sober, lady said to me.

“People in Cleveland aren’t Irish, they’re unhappy.”

Cleveland. Land of the persecuted, home of the hopeless.

Dave: Let’s hear it for the Midwestern alcoholism! Cheers!

Cleveland is kinda bleak in parts. But like any major city, there is some good stuff and good people there. Ringing endorsement!

This is the Beatles song that sums up the post-LeBron Cavs for me, presented without further comment:

I hopped over to FearTheSword.com, and they seem really jazzed about third-year forward Tristan Thompson. A few of them even gulped down some crazy juice, boldly predicting an All-Star spot for him. In an Eastern Conference loaded with big men, that seems a bit rash. But it seems like our NBA-junkie excitement in seeing him play is justified. Oh lord, that jumper:

Check out the above clip around the 0:15 second mark for his weird little flick shot. He looks like he is disgusted with the ball, throwing it into the basket-shaped trash can as quickly as possible.

And we didn’t even mention the hand switch!

Jon: You’re being too harsh on the young lad, Dave. Cut him some slack. He’s Canadian. You know how they prefer left-handed flip shots while listening to Drake. It’s a national past time. Like Boxing Day – whatever the hell that is.

I was really excited for the Cavs this summer when they acquired Andrew Bynum. Not because the former Laker could potentially help their abysmal interior presence and rim defense, but because of his bizarre personality and idiosyncrasies. Though he played a total of zero games for the 76ers last year, he kept them Internet relevant (the best kind of relevant) with a litany of puzzling hair styles.

Here’s a a brief gallery of the silliness.

I was looking forward to another year of creepy Bynum memes. Then he had to go and ruin it by playing opening night. And he looked normal to boot! Boo, Andrew Bynum. You spoiled a good thing for all of us.

YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, BYNUM!

We may be in luck, however. Word on the street is Bynum will sit out for tonight’s game against the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Blue and Gold were already associated with the debut of Pierre Pelican, why not the return of Deranged Andrew Bynum?

Moving on…

Remember the last time these two teams played each other?

It was a meaningless game for both sides. The Pacers had secured a playoff spot while Uncle Drew and company were lottery-bound once more. However, Indy trailed by as much as 20 points. Frank Vogel purposefully got ejected, then-assistant coach Brian Shaw put the bench in wholesale, and the comeback was on. After the win, Roy Hibbert ran onto the court and jumped onto Jeff Pendergraph’s back almost killing him. And who says the regular season isn’t fun?

I fear this game won’t be fun for the Cavs. Who on their roster can defend any of the Pacers’ bigs? Without Bynum they revert to the guard-heavy team they were a season ago. As terrific as Kyrie Irving has been, he’s not stopping PG or D-Nasty or Big Roy. Much like the wins over Orlando and New Orleans, Indy has size and depth and will thoroughly exert themselves on the upstart Cavaliers. Who knows, maybe Vogel sticks around to see the finish this time?

Dave: In honor of Bynum’s sore knee, I give you my final Beatles clip:

Get it? Twist & Shout? Nailed it.

BOLD PREDICTION: David West has a huge game. He goes for 20 plus, five assists, seven boards. Sideshow Bob will have his hands full with Hibbert, so West will veteran-move the hell out of the young Cavs front line.

By the way, what is up with the nickname “Cavaliers”? As Zach Lowe pointed out, cavalier means “lazy arrogance”. Alright guys, we have no plan and we don’t care! Let’s go with this!

The post-Jordan NBA was a time of struggle for the league. Ratings were low, the quality of play suffered. A generation of overpaid rookies never reached their potential because of a cavalier attitude towards working out & practicing. I mean, does anything epitomize lazy arrogance more than this:

Maybe Iverson should have retired as a Cavalier.

Final Score: Pacers 98, Cavs 92

Jon: Remember last year when Bynum said he re-aggravated his knee while bowling?

Surely such a strange occurrence has to be parodied.

GO INTERNET!

The Bynum abides, man.

My turn for predictions. I would say I expect a big game from Paul George, but such a statement seems rather obvious. It’s only been two games, but here’s his stat line:

28 ppg / 6 rpg / 5 apg/ 49 FG% / 41 3P% / 75 FT% / 1.5 bpg / 1.5 stl pg.

He’s subtly taken another leap. And, as you describe in our latest podcast, he’s playing with casual brilliance.

I like another big game from Lance Stephenson, who’s playing superb basketball to begin the season. Second-year guard Dion Waters will have a hard time guarding him one-on-one, and Lance has the speed to out run Cleveland on the break. I’ll say 15 points and five rebounds.

Also, he’ll be assessed his second technical foul of the season for kissing the ball.

Final Score: Pacers 98, Cavaliers 89.

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