Close call: Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers

"It's a routine that we're going to stick with".

They got that first win on April 15 at Quicken Loans Arena with a 109-108 victory over IN in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Division series. Stephenson, a reserve for the Pacers since signing as a free agent late in March, played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter and scored eight of his 16 points. It was the only game where both the winning and losing teams had a true shooting percentage over 60. This was a fantastic move by James and the Cavaliers; one that the Pacers clearly weren't expecting. Defensive breakdowns. Bad shots.

For comparison's sake, the Houston Rockets, who smoked the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first game, had an offensive rating of 118.7.

Game 2 of the first-round series between the Cavaliers and Pacers takes place this Tuesday, still at the home of the champions the Quicken Loans Arena. When Miles caught the ball, there ere still five seconds left on the clock, but the Pacers had no idea what to do if the ball wasn't in George's hands. George was unhappy and outspoken after the game about the Pacers' failure to get him the ball for the final shot.

Double-teaming Paul George sparked a run.

While all of that chatter dominated the postgame rhetoric, a very salient point was missed.

This time, James started the postseason off with 32 points, 13 assists, and 6 rebounds. The final score was 109-108. More accurately, it resembled Ronda Rousey vs. Turtle.

The rest of us can slice and dice, grouse about style points and presumptuously try to project how far short this level of play would fall against Golden State or maybe San Antonio out West.

Cleveland had several bad possessions down the stretch and the Cavs went only 14 of 27 from the free-throw line. Their collective true shooting percentage was 38.2 percent. But they also went scoreless for almost three minutes toward the end of the fourth quarter after Jeff Teague's 3-pointer put IN ahead 105-103 with 3:31 left. Iman Shumpert, who sat out the opener, replaced Smith and played 20 solid minutes. He had 18 points at the half and kept Indy within striking distance.

This isn't a knock on Tuner by any means; I still firmly believe he's going to end up as a top-3 player from the 2015 draft.

Coming off consecutive early playoff exits, the Spurs superstar looked determined to carry on from the form that saw him many people's MVP victor for most of the season. They did about the same in that regard. His body language has to improve, just for the team.

Having James certainly helps closing games out, too.



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