Game 1: Raptors at Cavaliers; Series tied 0-0
In the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, the Cleveland Cavaliers laid to rest all of the “they’re going to be rusty” rumors they have heard since sweeping the Pacers in the first round. Despite not playing an actual NBA Playoff game in a week, the Cavaliers came out strong to defeat the visiting Toronto Raptors, 116-105.
LeBron James would once again lead all Cleveland scorers, notching 35 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Kyrie Irving would also record a double-double, scoring 24 points with 10 assists. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson rounded out the Cavaliers’ double-digit scorers, tallying 18 and 11, respectively.
The Cavaliers emerged out of the gate strong, leading to a 12-point lead as the first quarter buzzer rang out. The Raptors, however, would then make a run in the second quarter. Toronto would eventually narrow the gap to within two following a Kyle Lowry three-point play.
But basketball is a game of runs, and the Cavaliers would once again step on the accelerator to start the second half., Cleveland would then stretch the lead back out to as many as 25, en route to the game 1 victory.
“We’ve been preparing all week, but once the game starts we’ll see if we can translate all the preparation that we’ve had this week to a game situation,” LeBron James told USA Today Monday morning, just prior to the series opener.
“That was the mystery coming into the game, how we would come out?” James told ESPN following the game. “Obviously you prepare, you want to come out and play well, but you never know after an eight-day layoff. But the energy was phenomenal.”
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan lead the effort for the Raptors, finishing with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Serge Ibaka would add in 15. While P.J. Tucker and Norman Powell would record 13 and 12 points, respectively off the bench.
“They get big spurts, and we fight back, and they do another big spurt. We’ve gotta find ways to limit the spurts,” Lowry told CBC Sports. “We know they’re going to be a high-flying team, up and down, shoot the ball well at home. But we’ve got to find a way to not let them get going and get everyone involved, and getting the crowd involved. We’ve got to find ways to completely just slow it down, and not let them get out in transition.”
Cavaliers lead series 1-0
Game 1: Rockets at Spurs; Series tied 0-0
The second game of the night saw the San Antonio Spurs play host to MVP-hopeful James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Even with the Spurs being the higher seed and playing in San Antonio, game 1 would be all Houston. The Rockets would shoot 22 for 50 from behind the arc to defeat the Spurs 126-99, handing them their worst home playoff loss in the process.
Trevor Ariza’s 23 points led the way for the Rockets, while James Harden would add 20 of his own. Clint Capela and Ryan Anderson would also finish in double figures for Houston, finishing with 20 and 14, respectively.
“We lost. And they won and they played better,” Spurs coach Gregg said, following the game.
Even with the losing effort, Kawhi Leonard would finish with a team-high 21 points with 11 rebounds. Tony Parker notched 11 points and Jonathon Simmons came off the bench to add in 11.
The Spurs will now look to regroup before facing the Rockets for game 2 of their series on Wednesday.
Rockets lead series 1-0
Looking ahead to Tuesday night’s games will see the Washington Wizards visiting the Boston Celtics for game 2 of their series. The Celtics won game 1 on Sunday following a 33-point performance by Isaiah Thomas.
Finally, following the conclusion of that game, we will see the Utah Jazz visiting the Golden State Warriors for game 1 of their second round match-up.
[Featured Image by Tony Dejak/AP Images]