Pacers Strike Early, Knock Off Cavs In Game One
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INDIANAPOLIS – On Sunday afternoon, the entire country got a glimpse into what the state of Indiana has been watching for the past 6 months.
In front of a (rare) nationally televised audience, the Pacers punched the Cavs square in the face from the onset, and answered every potential run the defending Eastern Conference Championships threw at them.
The 98-80 victory marked the first time since 2012 that LeBron James had lost a first round playoff game.
If the rest of the NBA world didn’t believe in the Pacers before this weekend, they witnessed quite the statement on Sunday afternoon.
"We already had that belief,” Victor Oladipo, who had a game-high 32 points, said after the Pacers took a 1-0 lead in this best of 7 series. “I believe that we believed that we could win. We came in to this game with a mentality that we were going to attack on both ends of the floor. Playing the same way we’ve been playing all year and we did a great job of that. But like I said, it’s only one game, it’s only game one so got to get ready for game two.”
Oladipo was the once again the catalyst in his first true playoff game as the lead dog.
The All-Star had 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 6-of-9 from long distance.
With Cleveland misfiring all throughout the opening quarter, the Pacers jumped on the Cavs early.
A 21-point lead in the first quarter came with LeBron taking just one shot from the field.
Eventually LeBron got his (24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds), but the Pacers closed the game off the way they started it---with a strong defensive effort.
Cleveland scored just 14 points in the first quarter and 15 in the fourth quarter.
Besides LeBron, no Cavs starter finished in double figures.
The Pacers got a huge contribution from the struggling Myles Turner.
After a putrid finish to the regular season, Turner made his first shot on the game’s opening possession, in what was definitely a sign of things to come. Turner had 16 points and 8 rebounds, after averaging just 7 and 3 in the final 10 games of the regular season.
Cleveland and LeBron are now certainly in a very foreign spot.
Before Sunday, LeBron had won 21 straight first round games. He’s never lost an opening round series in 12 playoff appearances.
"I'm down 0-1 in the first round," LeBron said after the 98-80 loss. "I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So, I'm the last guy to ask about how you're going to feel the next couple days.
“At the end of the day, they came in and they dictated the tempo. They were more aggressive. They just played inspired basketball and they just took advantage of everything that we wanted to try to do. They were more physical than us at the point of attack, they were more precise with what they wanted to do and we couldn’t score the ball. Obviously, in this league you’ve got to be able to score the ball, and I think defensively, we were pretty good. We gave up 98 points. But 80 is definitely not going to cut it. I think we’ll make some adjustments and be a lot better.”
What’s Next: Here is the remainder series schedule:
Game 2: @Cleveland, (Wednesday, 7:00 on TNT)
Game 3: Indiana, (Friday, 4/20, 7:00 on ESPN)
Game 4: Indiana, (Sunday, 4/22, 8:30 on TNT)
*Game 5: @Cleveland, (Wednesday, 4/25), TBD)
*Game 6: Indiana, (Friday, 4/27, TBD)
*Game 7: @Cleveland, (Sunday, 4/29, TBD)