The Indiana Pacers could not overcome LeBron James's big-time play in Game 2, and it looked as if it was going to be the same at the beginning of Game 3. Instead, the Pacers rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to take a 2-1 series lead with a 92-90 win over the Cavaliers on Friday night. Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 7-for-9 from three-point range, as he scored 19 of his career-high point total in the second half, where the Pacers outscored the Cavaliers, 52-33. The Cavs did lead by six heading into the fourth quarter, as they were 39-0 when leading after three quarters this season, with the keyword there being "were." Victor Oladipo chipped in for Indiana with 18 points, six rebounds, and seven assists on the night. While getting things done on the offensive side of the floor, Bogdanovic also had the task of guarding James, who put up 28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and six turnovers. "King James" was able to join Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to reach 100 double-doubles in the postseason, as Jordan finished his career with 109 of them. Kevin Love was playing through an injured thumb and had 19 points and six rebounds in the loss. The Pacers can take a commanding series lead when they host Game 4 on Sunday night.
Jets Advance Past Wild in Game 5
The Winnipeg Jets are now giving their fans even more reason to celebrate rather than just returning the Stanley Cup Playoffs to them. The Jets got off to a quick start with a four-goal first period to take down the Minnesota Wild, 5-0, for a 4-1 series win on Friday night. Jacob Trouba, Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev, and Joel Armia all scored in the first 11:59 of the first period, which chased Wild goaltender Devyn Dubnyk early on. That fast start, which included four goals on just 10 shots against Dubnyk, helped them cruise the rest of the way to their first playoff series win in franchise history. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves in what was his second shutout of the series, saying with a smirk afterward "I guess I did my job." Mark Scheifle added some more insurance with a goal in the third period. The Jets are in the playoffs for just the second time since moving the organization from Atlanta in 2011. Their last playoff appearance took place in 2015, but ended quickly with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. They are looking to have some serious success this time around after finishing in second place in the Central Division, as they will take on the winner of the Nashville Predators-Colorado Avalanche series in the second round.
Avalanche, Flyers Force Game 6
Speaking of that Nashville Predators-Colorado Avalanche series, the Avalanche were not ready to go home on Friday night, as they were able to force a sixth game with a 2-1 win over the Predators. Andrew Hammond earned his first career postseason victory after making 44 saves, as he watched his team rally after falling behind, 1-0. They scored twice in the final 4:11 of regulation after getting shutout for a majority of the night. Gabriel Landeskog started the rally by scoring in an empty net after Pekka Rinne got caught up with a teammate outside of the crease. Sven Andrighetto went on to score the game-winner on a rebound with 1:28 to play, stunning the Predators' faithful, who were hoping to see their defending Western Conference Champs advance. Nick Bonino scored the lone goal for the Predators against Hammond, who last started in the playoffs on April 17th, 2015. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers extended their series with their rivals at least one more game with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sean Courtier scored the game-winner with 1:15 to play in regulation, as he beat Matt Murray late to send the game back to the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers were not only playing from behind in the series, but also for a majority of Friday's game, as Valtteri Filppula had a short-handed goal in the second period to tie the game. Matt Read added an empty-netter late to seal the win, while Claude Giroux netted his first goal of the series. Michal Neuvirth made 30 saves on the night, with the biggest being a diving stop on Sidney Crosby with 50 seconds left to secure the lead. Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust each scored for Pittsburgh, who got 21 saves from Murray in the loss.