A 2-0 start for the Indiana Pacers has to be pleasing, but the fact that they picked up a close victory last time out had to be even more encouraging.
The Pacers look to stretch their season-opening win streak to three games tonight with a sixth straight victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Indiana won its season opener on Monday in solid fashion, a 91-79 verdict against visiting Detroit. Things were a bit closer on Wednesday in Toronto, but the Pacers held off a late charge to post a 90-85 victory and start a season with two straight wins for the first time since opening the 2007-08 campaign with three victories in a row.
Danny Granger led five Indiana players in double figures with 21 points to go along with eight rebounds, hitting a big three-pointer after the Raptors had pulled within with 1:35 to play. The Pacers had led by 14 early in the fourth.
"Toronto played a good game down the stretch," said Darren Collison, who finished with 10 points and 12 assists. "It was a good test for us."
Paul George poured in 18 points and hit on four of his career-high seven three-point attempts, while key offseason acquisition David West scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. The Pacers are counting on players like West to help turn around a trend that saw the club go 19-28 last year in games decided by 10 points or fewer.
"It's awesome that we have so many weapons. Paul really carried us in the first half," said Granger. "Second half, me and David West kind of got going. It's great having the options we have."
Indiana begins a four-game road trip in Detroit tomorrow, but first it will look to extend its winning streak over Cleveland after sweeping the four-game series in 2010-11. The Pacers had won just twice in their previous 18 meetings with the Cavaliers prior to this string of five straight victories. Those past results had a lot to do with former Cavs star LeBron James.
After opening their season with a setback to the Raptors, the Cavaliers picked up their first win with a 105-89 defeat of the hosting Pistons on Wednesday. The 16-point margin of victory for Cleveland was its largest since it beat Detroit by 25 back on March 21, 2010.
Ramon Sessions came off the bench to post 16 points as Cleveland's reserves outscored Detroit's, 56-25.
"Obviously from the beginning to the end we were so much better; so much more aggressive from the start to the finish and that's exactly what we talked about doing and doing the things that we do," said Cavs head coach Byron Scott. "I thought our guys did it for 48 minutes tonight and when you play defense as hard as we did tonight it seems like the offense is easy. A lot of guys obviously played really well."
Irving had scored just six points in his NBA debut on Monday, but the former Duke standout had 12 points and five assists by halftime versus the Pistons.