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Against the Pacers, specifically, this will be the third postseason meeting between the Central Division foes (1998 First Round, 2017 First Round), with Cleveland sweeping IN 4-0 IN last year's opening Playoff round. However, that came at a time when the wheels appeared to be coming off of not only that game, but the Cavs' season as well.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be taking on the Indiana Pacers for the second straight year in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

But more than that, Lue just wants to see his Cavs play hard. Last season, IN was swept IN the first round when they faced Cleveland, but this year it's a different team with a different mentality.

The good news for the Cavaliers is their roster is in mostly good health, with only guard Rodney Hood sitting out the finale against NY due to a left Achilles soreness.

"It definitely could", Love told ESPN on Friday on whether Cleveland's playoffs could be impacted by James" free agency or vice versa. The other spot could go to veteran shooter Kyle Korver, who has been slowed by a foot injury and whose status remains uncertain.

"We've done these things before, but, each series is going to be different".

"You usually go nine".

Looking at the Cavaliers after the trade deadline [VIDEO] is key also. He's been slowed by a sore left Achilles, but Lue said Hood's "ready to go".

Nothing about the task that lies ahead of them will be easy, despite the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are more vulnerable now than any James-led team has been in over a decade.

Thompson was excused from Thursday's practice because of the birth of his daughter.

Lue is also urging the Cavs' less experienced players to make their mark on the defensive end. Each of those clubs knocked off the Cavs at least once during the regular season.

Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley's philosophy in the playoffs was: "You rotate eight players". You play at the highest level. I don't think he's Michael Jordan but you can put him up there close to him.

"I've been on a team that played a 10-man rotation in the playoffs, but I haven't been on a team this deep, so I think we'll have a lot of great guys that we can throw out there on the court with big lineups, small lineups", he said.

"I think we just have a little bit more a spark and edge to us than we had previous year".

For Hill, the matchup against the Pacers represents a homecoming, as he played for IUPUI and spent five years with the Pacers.

One of the Cavaliers' major flaws all season has been their often-lax defense, which is a component that's always been tied to winning championships. James opting out is likely, and Love feels it could affect the Cavaliers' play.

That can't happen this time.

"What we've proven in the past is we're really good at locking in and putting it all together". "So I'm very excited about that".


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