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In Unfamiliar Territory: The Cavs First-Round Playoff Loss Flummoxes Fans

photo of Barley House
Fans at the Barley House in Akron sat quietly and slowly filed out after the first half, when the Cavs trailed the Pacers by double digits.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had their first opening round playoff loss in eight years on Sunday, as they fell to the Indiana Pacers 98-80.

By halftime, the Cavs trailed the Pacers 55-38, and the Barley House in downtown Akron took on a funeral atmosphere. The Cavs narrowed the gap to seven by the end of the third, but ultimately came up short.

Ben Suscinski is a St. Vincent-St. Mary grad who lives in Akron and was at the Barley House. He says the team has played erratically all season, but regardless of what happens, he thinks LeBron James will stay with the Cavs next year.

“I think it boils down to what the family wants to do. And really what his wife wants to do. Which is fine. He can do what he wants. He came back, he made a promise to win a championship, and he won a championship.”

Suscinski also feels James will want his kids to attend the same high school he went to. And whether he stays or goes, Suscinski has only one wish.

“As long as you don’t go to the Warriors.”

Manny Salem watched the game at the Barley House. He’s a lifelong Cavs fan and says the problem is that the team hasn’t been taking games seriously this season.

“Every time they go to a game, they just act like it’s nothing. They don’t really think about how playing games before the finals factors into the end analysis. Playing games is practice so when you get to the finals, you’re going to use that practice from other games to get to the finals. But they don’t think about that. They’re just like, ‘oh yea, we’re really good.’”

One bright spot on Sunday, LeBron James scored 24 points on his way to his 20th career triple-double. The Cavs meet the Pacers for Game Two on Wednesday night in Cleveland.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.