Irving scores 37, Cavs hold on to beat Pacers 117-111

Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James leads defending champions to playoff win over Indiana Pacers

The Cavaliers turned the page and welcomed playoff basketball back to Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday.

The Cavs had lost their final four games of the regular season in an alarming form slump.

"We wanted to get the ball out of his hands, make somebody else try to beat us and live with the results", he said. LeBron James finished with 25 points while Kevin Love had 27 points.

The Spurs won 96-82 on Monday night (Tuesday AEST) on their home court and need just two more wins in the best-of seven series to extinguish the Grizzlies and move on to the second round. "It's hard to win playoff games like that".

Cleveland came into the fourth quarter with an 18-point lead and saw the Pacers cut it all the way to four with 19.5 seconds remaining, reminiscent of the way IN was able to turn a 12-point deficit late IN the third quarter IN Game 1 to a two-point lead with 3:31 remaining IN the fourth Saturday.

James and J.R. Smith double-teamed George to force him to pass the ball to Miles, who was closely defended by Richard Jefferson as he missed.

"I'm happy we got the victory", said James.

"I'm not going to let them treat us that way".

The Cleveland Cavaliers withstood a late comeback and earned a one-point win in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs, but questions about the team remain.

Spurs' forward Kawhi Leonard pulled off a Herculean effort with 37 points and 11 rebounds; he was ideal from the free-throw line hitting all 19 attempts. James, Irving, and Love had missed the last six shots for Cleveland.

James joined in on the scoring in the second quarter as the Cavs' lead reached 66-59 at halftime.

Iman Shumpert replaced Smith and scored five points.

It continued a disturbing trend for the Cavs, who have been giving up late, big leads with regularity. Johnson came up big off the bench and George Hill added 16 points.

Like Irving, neither coach Tyronn Lue or LeBron James seemed particularly frustrated by the team's 109-108 win.

"I just try to be a guy who makes smart decisions in attack mode, and take some of the pressure off Paul", said Stephenson, who previously played with in from 2010-2014. "And I think we're right there on the cusp of doing that". Hats off to [the Pacers]. The good news, they've been here, many times before. Jeff Teague never has a problem getting into the lane and Monta Ellis remains a mad man in the pick-and-roll, but the Pacers have precious little shooting, and while Myles Turner will be a beast very soon, he isn't quite ready to take over games.

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