Heading into their home tilt against the Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen compared it to a playoff-level matchup due to the playoff-clinching scenarios surrounding it. That pressure heading into the matchup raised the stakes for the Cavs and, in turn, made it a bit more dire than a typical regular season game in Allen's eyes.

After the Cavs held on to defeat the Pacers 120-116, Allen showed he had the power of clairvoyance since this game felt like a playoff game. At one point, Cleveland led by as many as 14 points, with Indiana trimming the lead to two points with less than two minutes left in the game. But thanks to Allen playing like a man possessed, he finished the game with 29 points and 12 rebounds, especially with Evan Mobley dealing with foul trouble all game long.

“This is the closest we're going to get to a playoff game before the playoffs start, and I think we felt that as an organization. We wanted to come out and treat the game like that,” said Allen. “I’m a big teammate and wanted to get this for us. This is a game that decided our seeding going forward and the guys want one of the good seeds so I just wanted to go out and play my heart out for them.”

Humility aside, which drives one of his teammates wild, Allen was a key difference-maker in Cleveland's win against Indiana. Thanks to his heroics, the Cavs have clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, and there's a good chance they will face these same Pacers. If Cleveland and Indiana do face each other in the first round of the playoffs, Allen has emerged as a clear playoff X-factor against the Pacers.

Can Jarrett Allen carry the Cavs?

Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (31) looks to shoot beside Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) in the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

After his teammate's dominance against Indiana, Cleveland guard Donovan Mitchell spoke up on how important Allen is for the Cavs, blaming him for not wanting to be his biggest cheerleader.

“He’s one of if not the most important players on the team,” Mitchell said about Allen to ClutchPoints. “What he’s able to do for us with his screen setting, his rolling, being able to be patient, find guys on the perimeter when they collapse – there’s just so much that he does.”

Mitchell's spot on on how Allen has been like this all season but, against the Pacers, Allen is on a different level. Against Indiana, Allen has averaged 20.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 blocks and nearly a steal in 31.1 minutes per game. Other than Mitchell, who has averaged 30.5 per game against the Pacers, or Caris LeVert, who averages 20.8 points per game against Indiana, no one averages more than Allen on the Cavs against the Pacers.

That dominance from Allen can be a difference-maker and possibly help Cleveland win a first-round series against Indiana. It's what leads Mitchell to push and challenge Allen in the middle of a game, expecting more from his star big man.

“I hope he doesn’t get mad at me, but he went up, I called it weak,” Mitchell said. “He went up weak and missed it, but they called the foul. I told him, they bailed you out. Then, the next time, he comes down and goes up strong. That’s progression.”

Allen wasn’t a huge fan of the criticism but took it well.

“I want him to stop critiquing me,” Allen said with a smile. “He said what he said and I was like, ‘Alright, I got you.’ I went up and dunked the next one. He said, ‘That’s how you’re supposed to do it.’ He didn’t critique me after that so I was doing something right. He had a reason to say that and I responded the right way.”

If the Cavs draw the Pacers in the first round, Allen can keep responding the right way. But, for now, there's still one game left in the regular season, with a possible division title on the line.