To this point in his career, LeBron James has averaged 27.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 7.2 assists per game. In 1,143 career games, 54 have come against the Indiana Pacers against whom he averages 27.4 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and 6.4 assists per game. Doesn’t seem too bad, they’re even the only team he has shot below 30 percent from three against.
In the 2017-2018 season, James is averaging a special 27.5 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game and 9.1 rebounds per game. In four games against Indianapolis, he is putting up 28.8 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game and 10.3 assists per game. Allowing a double-double is not ideal, but he isn’t really brutalizing them much worse than the rest of the league.
However, starting with a 2012 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals win, 4-2 while leading the Miami Heat, James has been an absolute boogeyman, laying waste to a talented Pacers team with championship dreams.
That 2012 team was the No. 3 seed and they put up a scrap. They took game two in Miami even though James had 28, nine and five. After winning game three to go up in the series, LeBron said enough and went for 40, 18 and nine, wrestling back control. The Pacers promptly lost the next two.
They met again the following year, this time with high stakes in the conference finals. Anyone who remembers knows it was a tremendous back and forth. The games were not of the highest caliber, but the genuine belief in a Heat embarrassment, something sought by many a Big Three hater, was prevalent the whole series. However, LeBron was not having it, shutting down the Pacers again with 32 points in a game seven.
The three-peat (which was culminated three years of intense and enjoyable basketball) was realized in the Eastern Conference finals the next year. This time the Pacers were the No. 1 seed and their core of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Lance Stephenson were in their apex. That Pacers was quite good, and if Lance Stephenson didn’t go too far with his antics, maybe they could have gotten it done. But nah, Miami won in six.
The two suffered a couple seasons of separation before getting back together. James, now back with the Cavaliers, took on a Pacers team seventh in the East. George was still around, Stephenson was back, and nostalgia was in the air. The games were phenomenal, all decided by six points or less. However, the series was short, LeBron and co. swept the Pacers including a 41-point, 13 rebounds and 12 assist triple double in Indiana by James during game three.
James is good at many things; one of those things is making sure the Hoosier state, which loves basketball more than any other, will not supersede his reign as King of the East.
Last year he averaged 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and nine assists, a sensational line. He was tempered in 2014, only scoring 22.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 5.5 assists per game. But the year before that it was 29, seven and five, and that first year it was 30, ten and six.
Now the pair will meet again. Only Stephenson remains from the glory days, but James doesn’t discriminate, he surely intends to steamroll them regardless. 538 gives them a 74 percent chance to win game one, and 72 percent in the series at large. Experts will say, all this for the supposedly equitable four versus five matchups and the Cavaliers being as weak as ever this year.
But that’s not the point. It’s not what analytics or pundits say, it’s about what LeBron says. When the question from the Pacers has been “Can we go any further?”, James has always said “No.”
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.