The Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers have been back and forth through four games of their first-round series, both literally and figuratively. That trend stayed alive on Sunday night when the Cavs evened their series at two-apiece with a 104-100 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. LeBron James had 32 points to lead the Cavaliers, as they had to hang on after nearly blowing a double digit lead for a second straight game. They fell in Game 3 after leading by 16, and then lead by as many as 18 on Sunday night. The Pacers fought back in the second half, and nearly had a chance to tie or take the lead late, but a tie up with Lance Stephenson and James was called a foul on Stephenson, rather than a jump ball. That helped the Cavs shoot free throws late to seal the win, as James and Kyle Korver combined to score Cleveland's final 13 points. James added 13 rebounds and seven assists, while recording his 100th career 30-point playoff game, which is second all time behind Michael Jordan. Indiana did come back to lead by two with under five minutes to play, but Korver's three-pointer gave them the lead for good with just over three minutes to play. The three-point shooter ended with 18 points, as he reached 200 career three-pointers in the postseason. Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 19 points, as they look to take another series lead with a road win in Cleveland on Wednesday night.
Spurs Avoid Sweep Against Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs came in to their first-round series with the Golden State Warriors as clear underdogs, and now being without head coach Gregg Popovich, they were struggling down 3-0. Although, they were able to extend the series on Sunday afternoon, avoiding a sweep with a 103-90 win on their home floor. Manu Ginobili led a fourth-quarter charge with 10 of his 16 points in the final 12 minutes, where the Spurs pulled away with 26 points. LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 22 points and 10 rebounds, as they were led by assistant coach, Ettore Messina, with Popovich absent for a second straight game following the death of his wife, Erin. Messina was familiar with Sunday's hero, Ginobili, who played for Messina in Italy. The 40-year-old, who is in his 16th season, had clutch play similar to his prime, helping his team overcome the 34 points and 13 rebounds from Kevin Durant on the Warriors' side of things. Ginobili shot 3-for-4 from the floor in the final quarter and did not turn the ball over, but did say that he will not decide if he will return for a 17th season until the off-season. He was helped out by his teammates, as the Spurs shot 15-for-28 from three-point range as a team after shooting just 26 percent from beyond the arc in the first three games. They will look to cut into the series deficit even more at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night, where Messina is still expected to be on the sidelines.
Penguins. Predators Advance in Game 6
Two teams attempted to force a seventh game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday, and both of them failed on their home ice. First, Jake Guentzel scored four times as the Pittsburgh Penguins advanced past the Philadelphia Flyers with an 8-5 victory at the Wells Fargo Center. Guentzel's goals came in consecutive fashion, as he kept his team's chances for a third straight championship alive. It was the third four-goal playoff game in team history, joining Mario Lemieux in 1989 and Kevin Stevens in 1991. That big night helped overcome Sean Courturier's hat trick, which was the 24th postseason hat trick in franchise history for the Fyers. Pittsburgh will battle the winner of the Washington Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets series. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators were in much less of a fight, as they shut out the Colorado Avalanche, 5-0, to advance on the Western Conference side of things. Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots in the shutout, while Mattias Ekholm scored early to get the offense ignited quickly. Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg, Nick Bonino, and Viktor Arvidsson all scored for the Predators, who are looking to avenge a Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Penguins from a season ago. They will battle another division rival in the Winnipeg Jets in the second round, as the Jets are coming off a five-game series win over the Minnesota Wild in the first round. The Predators had a record of 3-1-1 against the Jets in the regular season.