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Lance Stephenson has never been shy about expressing his opinions and he didn’t hold back after practice Saturday.
With the Indiana Pacers holding a 2-1 lead in the first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers swingman believes he and his teammates are in prime position to dethrone the three-time Eastern Conference champions.
“We have full control right now,” Stephenson said. “We have to keep it. We get another win in our building, and that’s when I think they’re going to start panicking. We’re going to bring it like we [brought] it the first game.”
Game 4 is Sunday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Indiana rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to defeat Cleveland for the fifth time in seven games this season, 92-90, in Game 3 on Friday night.
In four playoff matchups with LeBron James-led teams in Miami and Cleveland, the Pacers have never held a 3-1 advantage, which they would attain with another victory Sunday night.
While James was with Miami, Indiana faced him in the postseason in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and then again as a member of the Cavaliers a year ago.
In 2012, the Pacers held a 2-1 lead on James and the Heat — the same position in which they find themselves now — only to lose three consecutive games in the second round.
James’ teams are 12-0 in first-round series.
“Our goal is to stay together, try to contain LeBron, play team defense,” Stephenson said. “That team is a good team. I don’t think they’re going to get frustrated.”
Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo likes where Indiana stands and where it’s headed.
“I think we’re getting better,” he said. “Teams make adjustments between games. We did a great job of adjusting in the second half. I think our best basketball is still to come.”