Despite allowing 62 percent shooting in the first half and allowing the Detroit Pistons to shoot 50 percent from the field for the game, the Cleveland Cavaliers ‘Big 3’ of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined to score 81 points and sparked a fourth quarter rally to take a one game to none series lead 106-101 on Sunday afternoon at a sold out Quicken Loans Arena. Irving finished with a game high 31 points including five of ten from three point territory.
Love played perhaps his best playoff game of his career. While he only has five games of playoff experience after missing the final three series last year with a separated shoulder, Love has stepped up when it matters. Love finished with a double double, 28 points and a game high 13 rebounds. Love hit ten of his 22 shot attempts including four of eight from behind the three point line. Two of the four three point makes came late in the fourth quarter when the Cavs took the lead and put the game away.
James once again filled up the box score. LeBron had 22 points, six rebounds and eleven assists in 41 minutes of action. Head coach Tyronn Lue hoped to give James a couple more minutes of rest early in the fourth quarter. That changed when Detroit scored the first five points of the quarter to extend their lead to 83-76. Lue called a timeout and got James back on the floor to start the comeback.
J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson were not big factors in the starting lineup in game one. Smith had just nine points, three assists and three rebounds. Smith went two of seven shooting the three ball. Thompson only took one shot the entire game and finished with just two points and six rebounds. Thompson has a tough assignment going up against one of the NBA’s better centers in Andre Drummond, and did a decent job defending the Pistons big man. Drummond had only 13 points but did grab a Pistons team high eleven rebounds.
The Pistons had very good shooting performances both from its starters and off the bench. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with a team high 21 points on seven of 14 shooting including three of four three pointers. Marcus Morris had 20 points, 19 of those coming in the first half where he knocked down three from long distance.
The Pistons bench outscored the Cavaliers bench 21-14, but Cleveland held Detroit to just four bench points in the second half. Richard Jefferson knocked down two huge baskets in the fourth quarter to help erase the seven point deficit and get the Cavaliers the lead they would not surrender. Matthew Dellavedova also knocked down a huge three pointer in the fourth quarter comeback as part of his seven points to lead the Cavaliers bench scoring. The bench needs to play better as a whole for the rest of the series, but it did make a couple huge plays when they needed it most.
Two keys to the Cavaliers game one victory were turnovers and points in the paint. Cleveland only committed four turnovers for the entire game. Detroit committed ten turnovers. The Cavaliers outscored the Pistons 38-24 in points in the paint. If Cleveland continues to win that stat, the Pistons have no chance to win this series or even a game in this series. LeBron James lead teams have now won 14 straight first round playoff games.
Game two takes place on Wednesday evening at Quicken Loans Arena. Tip time is 8:00 p.m.