On Day 16 of 2017 NBA Playoffs Roundup, the Rockets fire away from downtown to take Game 1, Kyrie returns in a dominant Cavaliers win and the Spurs and Raptors need to adjust.
With two more conference semifinals in the 2017 NBA Playoffs tipping off Monday night, fans weren’t exactly treated to the most competitive of games.
The Cleveland Cavaliers took care of business in an 11-point walloping of the Toronto Raptors that was nowhere near as close as the final score would indicate. The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, came out guns blazing in Game 1 on the road, routing the San Antonio Spurs by 27 in a contest that also wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.
As we move deeper into the postseason, we’ll be taking a look back on the playoff action from the night before. Here’s a look at the return of Kyrie Irving, the Rockets’ long range assault and how the Raptors and Spurs might adjust moving forward.
Well That Was Thoroughly Predictable…But Hey, Kyrie’s Back Too!
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers handled business — as expected.
LeBron James dropped a big stat line — 35 and 10 — as expected. The Cavs led by double digits for most of the game — as expected. The Raptors looked outmatched on both ends of the floor as highlight play after highlight play rolled in for Cleveland — as expected.
LeBron was catching one-handed alley-oops off the backboard in the first quarter. Kevin Love was throwing in ridiculous three-point plays after pump-faking his defender. Even Iman Shumpert threw down his first poster in months.
Using two separate 10-0 runs in the first quarter, the Cavs carried a 12-point lead into the second quarter. Closing the half on a 21-9 run, they held a 14-point lead at the break, despite Toronto looking more alive in the second quarter.
With Cleveland up 22 heading into the fourth, LeBron James might as well have finished his beer.
At this point, the Cavaliers don’t view the Raptors as a legitimate threat, and to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t look like the Raptors do either.
The Cavs have been playing by candlelight for weeks now with that lackluster defense of theirs, but do they really need to “flip the switch” when the rest of the Eastern Conference is stumbling around blindly in the dark?
The biggest takeaway from Game 1 — other than Cleveland’s inevitable return to the conference finals — was a return to form for Kyrie Irving, who struggled in the first round. Though he averaged 25.3 points per game against the Indiana Pacers, they came on 41.9 percent shooting from the field and 21.9 percent shooting from downtown.
In the conference finals and potentially the NBA Finals, Cleveland needs a more efficient Kyrie Irving. His 7-of-16 performance (3-of-7 from deep) in Game 1 is a step in the right direction, even if his defense remains something to watch for.