The Pacers swept in series that didn’t feel as close at it was

Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan argues with referee Tony Brown (6) after McMillan was called for a technical foul during the second half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Who is to blame for the Pacers being swept out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers?

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The story:

The Indiana Pacers fought like hell to make the 2017 postseason — to give themselves a chance to win a title. After Sunday, that seemed like a lot of work for nothing. The Pacers were eliminated in four hard-fought, relatively close, and at times comically sloppy games by the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday afternoon, ending their up-and-down season at its lowest point. Despite the games being close — the average margin of victory for the Cavs was four points — the sweep was an embarrassment to the Pacers, who not that long ago were viewed as possible title contenders. But that era is past now, and even after some bold moves this past offseason, the Pacers are still also-rans in the Eastern Conference.

The dagger:

Paul George had a chance to tie:

Dieter Kurtenbach from Fox Sports on Paul George:

In the Cavs’ four-game sweep, George averaged a career-best 28, 8 and 7, but he never rivaled LeBron James (a tall task, but one George should be able to undertake at times) and was not unquestionably the second-best player on the court in the series — though that might be recency bias from Game 4 and the memory of that horrific miss crossing over. Nonetheless, George played as well as any reasonable person could expect. This is a player who is 0-for-15 in potential go-ahead or game-winning baskets with 20 seconds or less left, after all — 28, 8 and 7 is a great line. And that is the crux of the Pacers’ issue. George is a great player, but he’s not a transcendent one — not like James, or Stephen Curry, or Kevin Durant, or Kawhi Leonard. George sits firmly near the top of the second tier of superstar, but there doesn’t seem to be much room for his game to grow. The Paul George the Pacers had this year is the Paul George they can likely expect for the next few years, and while that’s excellent, it’s not good enough.

Paul George:

What do the fans think?

On Coach Nat McMillan:

On Lance Stephenson:

On Paul George:

What do you think? Who is to blame?

Debate by downloading our app on iOS at apple.co/1ITwL4w or on Android at bit.ly/fandings. You also can play online at playfandings.com.