Then, following Monday's 117-111 loss in which Lance Stephenson let his frustration show on the court, George matter-of-factly stated that the mercurial guard "has gotta learn to control himself" and added that "his body language has to improve, just for the team".
Cavaliers: Kyrie IrvingKevin Love, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye all scored 13 points. This also marked the Grizzlies' first win over the Spurs in the playoffs since April 2011, when Memphis beat San Antonio in six games. Love was called for the foul.
It continued a disturbing trend for the Cavs, who have been giving up late, big leads with regularity. After all, LeBron James is still LeBron James. It was that quasi-trap for the Cavs, who left Quicken Loans Arena with a 2-0 series lead, though the wins were wobbly. IN extended the lead to 20 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jeff Teague and Lance Stephenson, and then it was all Cavs.
However, the defending champions, following a pattern that began late in the regular season, almost gave away an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers crawled within four in the final minute before Cleveland closed it out at the foul line.
But the Cavs came out playing tough defense in the second half, holding the Pacers to only 17 points in the third quarter. The Pacers were as mediocre as possible on offense during the regular season - they finished 15th in offensive rating - so the Cavs should be able to make them look bad, or average, or at least not extremely good.
"We're right there of what we know we can become", James said. He missed three months with a fractured right thumb and was visibly frustrated by the latest setback when he returned to the bench after the third quarter started.
"We're right there", James said after putting up 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on Monday. He did have eight of Cleveland's 19 turnovers, miscues that allowed the Pacers to hang around.
Game 3 had the makings of being the one game the Pacers broke through, blitzed the Cavs and got their lone win, before the Cavs woke up.
After a narrow Game 1 loss to the Cavaliers, the All-Star forward was bummed that he hadn't gotten the chance to play hero, telling reporters that C.J. Miles should have passed the ball back to him on the game's final play because in "situations like that, I've got to get the last shot".
The question was about the Cavs being outscored in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game.
"That was my mistake", Stephenson said of guarding Love.
"That's to put together a four quarter game and I think we're right on the cusp of doing that".
"Kyrie had a big quarter and we went to a matchup trying to cool him off".
The Pacers regrouped, ripped off 13 straight points and were down 113-109 after George hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left. The good news for the Pacers is that they know they can hang with the Cavaliers to an extent and they play extremely well at home. "You knew they were going to be more aggressive". Prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Celtics only an 18 percent chance of winning the series.
James and the Cavs have the luxury of not agonizing over their mistakes while George and the Pacers will try to dig out of another hole and attempt to make it a series.