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Cavaliers Sweep the Pacers as LeBron James Breaks NBA Records

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after being hit in the face in the first half of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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Jeff Teague said “we ain’t getting swept” before the Indiana Pacers’ Game 4 matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Too bad LeBron James brought his broom. 

James scored 33 points and Kyrie Irving added 28 as the Cavaliers pulled away in the second half for a 106-102 win over the Pacers to advance to the conference semifinals. Cleveland won the best-of-seven series, 4-0, its third straight sweep of a first-round series.

Individually, James has been involved in five consecutive first-round sweeps and an NBA-record 21 straight first-round wins, dating back to his time with the Miami Heat. ESPN Stats & Info provided additional context:

As has been the case all season with these Cavaliers, this was anything but a seamless process. Indiana played hard and competitively for all four games, with the Cavs at times lackadaisically sleepwalking themselves through whole quarters before flipping the proverbial switch.

Cleveland’s offense, so dominant for most of the series, spent nearly all of Sunday in a state of disarray. The Cavs assisted on just 11 of their 37 field goals, an uncharacteristically low number, and hit 29.0 percent of their threes.

Justin Rowan of Fear the Sword noticed:

Kevin Love threw together by far his worst performance of the series, missing 11 of his 13 shots in a dreary five-point performance. Love hauled in 16 rebounds to help out on that end, though, and had a couple of fine outlet passes. The outlet passes understandably drew effusive praise:

For the most part, though, it was James and Irving holding things together as everyone fell apart around them. The Pacers took their first lead since the second quarter with 1:31 remaining on a Thaddeus Young tip-in as part of a 19-4 run—one that took almost eight minutes off the clock and erased a seemingly insurmountable Cleveland lead.

James pulled up from three on the Cavs’ next possession, stripped Young on Indiana’s next trip down the floor and then Irving sealed the deal with an offensive rebound on their next possession. The four-time MVP’s go-ahead shot was his first and only three-point make of the game. 

Seemingly uncomfortable with his outside shot, James took just three threes in the contest (two in the final minute) and did most of his work pounding near the rim. Irving’s 28 points came as part of a 10-of-25 performance from the field, but he was an offensive fulcrum in the first half when no other players could find their rhythm.

Deron Williams, with 14 points, was the only other Cavaliers player in double figures.

The Pacers were led by a 22-point effort from Lance Stephenson off the bench. If anything, this series has been an affirmation of Indiana’s faith in Stephenson, who spent most of the season battling for his spot in the league with non-guaranteed and 10-day contracts.

Paul George, who got the final shot for Indiana as part of a wild last-second sequence, had by far his worst game of the series. He finished 5-of-21 from the floor with 15 points, adding seven rebounds and six assists. 

George’s last-second shot led to some understandable ribbing:

Myles Turner (20 points, nine rebounds), Thaddeus Young (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Teague (15 points, 10 assists) were also in double figures for Indiana.

A largely impressive effort, the Pacers’ first-round sweep is a microcosm of what it’s been like for the East to go against James for more than half a decade. He’s been to six straight Finals, is a favorite for a seventh and has done it with a host of different teammates.

The supporting characters revolve, but the story stays the same—and it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. 

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