Deep dive into LeBron James' history with Pacers ahead of In-Season Tournament Finals

Ahead of the Indiana Pacers' In-Season Tournament Finals game against the Los Angeles Lakers, let's take a look at LeBron James' history with the Pacers.
Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James, Tyrese Haliburton, In-Season Tournament
Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James, Tyrese Haliburton, In-Season Tournament / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Days: Paul George's final run and the rise of Oladipo

Following the 2014 playoffs, Indiana would stumble upon some bad luck, as Paul George's infamous injury would take them out of the 2015 playoffs, and despite returning to relatively full form, his supporting cast had gotten worse, which led to a seven-game first-round exit, in 2016 at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

The next year would be worse, however, as Indiana once again faced LeBron James in the playoffs, this time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sure enough, LeBron and the Cavaliers' fortunes against the Pacers remained, as they handed Indiana their first sweep of the Paul George era, although the total margin of victory for the entire series was only 16 points.

This game, of course, included one of the worst games in Pacers history, as Indiana miraculously blew a 26-point lead in game 3 to go down 3-0 and lose Game 4 by only four points, ending the series and Paul George's time with Indiana as a result.

Despite George being gone and Indiana being projected to regress to a lottery team, Victor Oladipo and company had other plans, and the Pacers actually improved from the past season, going 48-34 and nabbing the fifth seed en route to yet another matchup with Cleveland and LeBron.

This time, however, the Cavaliers looked quite different, as Kyrie Irving was replaced with a slew of role players and Indiana looked far stronger than before. This showed in the series, as Indiana kept it close throughout, even getting cheated out of a win due to a missed goaltending call before ultimately losing by four points in Game 7.

Although the Paul George era had exciting moments and is perhaps most remembered when LeBron vs. the Pacers is discussed, this series was probably the best shot Indiana had at beating LeBron James in a playoff series.

This series would bring the final hurrah of Victor Oladipo as a legit star player, as he averaged 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals on 42/40 shooting splits while having countless clutch moments, including a 28-point explosion in a game-six blowout to tie the series 3-3 going into Cleveland.

In the end, it wasn't meant to be, and that game six win was the last playoff game the Pacers have won as of December 2023.