Sluggish Start Dooms Cavs in Game 1 Loss

Pacers Jump Out to 21-Point Early Edge, Cavs Can't Catch Up
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Wrap-Up -- The Cavaliers have been rallying back from early deficits all season. But the Playoffs are a different animal, and after falling behind by three touchdowns in the first quarter, the Wine & Gold simply couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole over the next three periods – falling to a feisty Pacers squad, 98-80, on Sunday afternoon at The Q.

The Cavaliers never led in Game 1 and the young Pacers were the aggressors from the opening tip – holding Cleveland to four points through the first eight minutes of the ballgame and closing the first period up 19.

Cleveland actually outscored Indiana by a point over the next three quarters, but the damage was done and the Wine & Gold will try to regroup for what becomes a critical Game 2 on Wednesday night.

”I just think you can’t ease into the Playoffs,” said Coach Tyronn Lue. “I thought (Indiana) came in and they attacked us. They hit us first and we were never able to recover. So, you can’t ease into the game. You have to be physical, you have to be mentally tough and mentally strong.”

”They were able to get a bunch of points in the paint, get in transition,” echoed Kevin Love. “Whether it was them getting to the free throw line, getting fouled, getting layups on that end or springing for threes, we just let that happen too much throughout the game, but really in that first quarter. That set the tone.”

LeBron James notched the 20th Playoff triple-double of his career – finishing with 24 points, a game-high 12 assists and 10 boards. But it was also the first time in his career that he dropped a Game 1 in the First Round, snapping his string of 21 straight victories.

On the night, the four-time MVP went 7-for-17 from the floor and 10-of-14 from the stripe, but took the collar in four three-point attempts.

As good as LeBron was, he was eclipsed in the scoring column by Indiana’s All-Star, Victor Oladipo, who led all scorers with 32 points – going 11-for-19 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, adding six boards, four assists, a game-high four steals and a block.

James was the only Cavaliers starter in double-figures on Sunday, although Kevin Love did lead both teams with 17 boards to go with nine points, a pair of assists and a blocked shot.

JR Smith – who poured in a season-high 23 points the last time Indy came to The Q – was good again on Sunday, finishing with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 from long-range.

JR Smith


Swish chips in 15 points off the bench as the Cavs can't rally in Game 1.

Larry Nance Jr. was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – netting 10 points off the bench, going 5-of-7 from the floor to go with five boards and a pair of steals.

Defensively, the Cavaliers weren’t bad – holding the Pacers to 46 percent shooting on the afternoon. But Cleveland couldn’t get anything going offensively, shooting 39 percent on the night, going 8-of-34 from long-range and just 12-of-20 from the stripe.

Aside from Oladipo, Myles Turner finished with 16 points for the Pacers, with Bojan Bogdanovic adding 15 and Lance Stephenson coming off the bench to finish with a dozen points in 17 high-energy minutes of work.

Turning Point -- After an abysmal first quarter, the Wine & Gold began chipping away at Indiana’s lead in the second – with LeBron capping a 9-2 run with a driving layup that got Cleveland to within 10 – 42-32, with 5:21 to play before half.

But on the Pacers’ next possession, Cory Joseph drilled a triple from the corner across from Indy’s bench to stem the tide. Victor Oladipo scored on a pull-up on the Pacers next trip, putting them back up 15.

The Cavs would cut it to 12, 50-38, with just over a minute to play in the period, but Miles Turner connected on a short turnaround jumper and drilled a three-pointer from the top of the arc with 2.1 to play before half – giving Indiana a 17-point edge at intermission.

By the Numbers31.0, 9.8, 9.6 … points, rebounds and assists that LeBron James has averaged against Indiana in five Playoff games as a Cavalier.

QuotableLeBron James, on whether he’s concerned about dropping Game 1 of the series

”I’m down 0-1 in the First Round. I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So I’m the last guy to ask about what I’m gonna be like the next couple days.”

Up Next -- After relinquishing home court advantage in Game 1, the Wine & Gold will try to even the series on Wednesday night at The Q. The series then shifts to Indiana, with Game 3 slated for Friday night (7 p.m.) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Game 4 takes place on Sunday night in Indianapolis (8:30 p.m.) before the First Round returns to Cleveland the following Wednesday (4/25). If the series continues, it returns to Indy next Friday (4/27) and will close in Cleveland on Sunday (4/29) should it go seven games.

Calls of the Game

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Game 1: Cavs at Pacers - April 15, 2018

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