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After nine months of tough basketball, harsh criticism, injury struggles, and a flurry of rumors, the Cavs opened up their first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson all shined in their playoff debuts as the Cavs defeated the Celtics 113-100 in Sunday’s Game 1.
The Cavs started off relatively slow compared to how they’ve been playing at home the past couple of months as they couldn’t take a lead larger than two points and even trailed by as many as five points. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving got the Cavs started, combining for 13 of the team’s 27 first quarter points. James found Irving cutting backdoor for the lay up, giving him his first career playoff basket. Cleveland trailed 31-27 after one quarter of play.
Cleveland trailed by eight points at 37-29 after Marcus Smart hit a wing three-pointer. But the Cavs stormed back with a 13-3 run to take a 42-40 lead. After Brandon Bass hit two free-throws to tie the game, the Cavs ran off an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the first half at 53-44. J.R. Smith found Kevin Love for a top of the key three-pointer, which was his first career playoff basket. After exchanging baskets, Kyrie Irving shook Evan Turner and hit a 28-foot wing three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give Cleveland a 62-54 lead.
Boston quickly cut the Cavalier lead to six, but seven quick points gave the Cavs their first double-digit lead at 71-58. Paired with an 11-2 run just minutes later, Cleveland took a 20-point lead and looked poised to put the Celtics away. That is, until Isaiah Thomas entered the game, providing an offensive spark that resulted in 14 straight points to cut the 20-point lead to 82-76. The Cavs responded once again, scoring the final nine points of the quarter, including a buzzer beating three by James Jones, to take a 91-76 lead into the fourth quarter.
The run was pushed to 12-0 as LeBron hit a three-pointer to start the fourth and final quarter. Every time Boston attempted a run, it was cut short by the Cavs team great team play. The closest Boston got was 10 points as Cleveland put the Celtics away, 113-100. The victory gave the Cavs a 1-0 series lead.
In his playoff debut, Kyrie Irving led the way for the Cavaliers with 30 points on 11-21 shooting, three rebounds and two assists. LeBron James had 20 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Also in his first playoff game, Kevin Love looked as healthy and aggressive as ever, constantly working the Boston bigs down low en route to 19 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. Tristan Thompson put up 12 points and six rebounds in 26 incredibly active minutes off the bench. J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov combined for 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
The Cavs took Game 1, but the Celtics showed resiliency even when they trailed by double-digits. Cleveland will need to come out with the same aggressiveness in Game 2 in order to maintain their home-court advantage. Game 2 is Tuesday night back at the Q on TNT.
Click “Next” below for all of today’s top plays and highlights!
LeBron James finds the cutting Kyrie Irving for his first career playoff basket!
LeBron James, who was trapped in the corner, throws a cross-court pass to J.R. Smith, who finds Love at the top of the key for three!
With Kyrie Irving trapped in the corner, Irving throws up a tightly contested, stepback three pointer!
Kyrie Irving shakes and bakes Evan Turner and hits the 28-foot three-pointer at the buzzer!
James Jones catches the pass from Matthew Dellavedova, takes one dribble to free himself up, and knocks down the three-pointer at the buzzer! It was the second three-point buzzer beater of the game for the Cavs!
Here’s the second angle:
And Here’s the bench celebrating after the shot: