After giving up a late lead and squeaking out the opener by just a point, James and Co. showed more intensity on defense, more swagger in general and held on to win their 10th straight first-round game over the past three seasons.
However, they almost blew an 18-point lead in the fourth as the Pacers got within four before Cleveland closed it out at the line. His career playoff averages coming into Monday stood at 28.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.
Paul George scored 32 and Jeff Teague 23 for IN, which showed more fight, but now has a steep hill to climb to get back IN the series.
"What I saw was a true professional", LeBron James said of Shumpert, whose struggles late in the regular season led to his Game 1 benching.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said there is no down side to having three players with such dynamic offensive skills at the top of his rotation.
Inside the locker room, it appears everything was understood. Irving closed the quarter by draining a 3-pointer over Stephenson and the All-Star made sure Indiana's antagonizing guard knew about it, yapping in his direction long after the horn sounded.
Maybe that spark will ignite a larger fire in the defending champions, who allowed a big lead in the fourth quarter to almost disappear again before finishing off the Pacers.
If Smith can't play, Iman Shumpert, who came off the bench to replace him Monday night and gave Cleveland a lift, likely will start.More news: VIP culture of beacon lights to end from May 1: Gadkari
Despite losing the opener, Pacers coach Nate McMillian insisted his team hadn't lost any confidence. I said those things only to motivate us to win a series.
"It's complete ignorance", George said.
Pacers: Glenn Robinson III returned after missing the past 12 games with a strained left calf.
Shumpert picked up a foul guarding George in his first 30 seconds on the floor before knocking down a 3-pointer from the corner, forcing in coach Nate McMillan to call time. He's been out since March 26 with a sprained left ankle.
In the meantime hear us out, then come back and tell us who got closer to capturing what Smith's hamstring injury could mean for the Cavs chances.
Baring a seismic shift in the overall tone of the series, more of the same will be needed as the series shifts to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
James has already achieved numerous National Basketball Association records this past regular season, and it looks as though this postseason will swiftly follow suit.