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NBA

Three takeaways from Pacers' thrilling Game 3 win over Cavs

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Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic (Getty Images)

The Pacers were down by as many as 17 points in Game 3 of their first-round series, but they rode the energy of their home crowd to defeat the Cavs and take a 2-1 series lead.

Here are three takeaways from Friday night's thrilling contest...

Pacers pick up the defense

The Cavs pounded the Pacers in the paint to start Game 3, and it led to a sizable advantage in the first half. The Pacers, however, remained physical throughout the game, and in the second half, the Cavs didn't seem like they wanted to keep taking contact on drives to the hole.

The result was just 33 second-half points for Cleveland, and once the Pacers' jumpers started falling, they were able to erase the 17-point deficit and hold off the Cavs for the win.

The whistles in the first quarter came quick, but toward the end of the game, the referees let both teams increase the level of physicality. Cleveland is going to have to play through the hits if they plan on evening this series up.

No help for LeBron, Love

LeBron James and Kevin Love combined for 47 of Cleveland's 90 points. The only other player who hit double-digits was George Hill, who finished with 13 points. Nine of Hill's 13 came in the first six minutes of the game - he disappeared after that.

The Pacers know James and Love will get their numbers, but if the Cavs can't find another scoring threat, Indiana could make quick work of Cleveland.

J.R. Smith brought energy in segments of Game 3, and his defense has been much better in the playoffs than the regular season. Rodney Hood showed he could create and make his own looks. Those are positive signs for the Cavs heading into a must-win Game 4.

Bojan Bogdanovic bursts onto the scene

Bogdanovic finished with a game-high 30 points on 7-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. He tied the Pacers' record for 3-point makes in a playoff game, joining Paul George (2014), Reggie Miller (1995, 2000) and Chuck Person (1991).

While everyone will point to his offensive game, it was his defense on James in the second half that made the difference in Game 3. Bogdanovic wasn't afraid to get physical with James, whether it was in the post or on the perimeter - even with foul trouble in the back of his mind.

Bogdanovic gives Indiana another body it can throw at LeBron when Lance Stephenson is off the floor, and he allows Victor Oladipo to conserve his energy so he can continue to create for the Pacers on the other end of the floor.

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