Cavs know their midrange defense has room for improvement after loss to Pacers

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cavaliers have now played the Indiana Pacers, one of the NBA’s best midrange shooting teams, three times.

And on Saturday night, Cleveland showed it must put more pressure on offenses that feature players who can score in the midrange and move without the ball.

The Cavs lost 113-104 to the Pacers, and they are down 2-1 in the season series. T.J. Warren, one of the league’s best midrange scorers, found the creases within the Cavs’ defense and scored a game-high 30 points.

The second half was when the Cavs’ defense started to trail off. The Pacers were more aggressive in their off-ball actions, and their main ball handlers and scorers got to their spots easier for buckets.

“Just be up to touch on the switches,” the Cavs’ Kevin Porter Jr. said. “There was too much of a gap and they split that and got some backdoors. They started reading the switches more. They took advantage of that. So we’ve just gotta be more aggressive on the pindowns. We’ve just gotta recognize that and be more aware.”

The Pacers’ player movement and midrange scoring go hand in hand. It’s no coincidence they’re ranked second in the league for percentage of points scored in the midrange (13.8%) and sixth in assists per game (26.2), per NBA.com stats.

Warren showed his deft shooting touch in the midrange on two key plays in the fourth. With the Cavs down 102-99, Warren had an isolation against Kevin Love and simply pulled up for a jumper.

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