With a 98-80 loss in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Pacers, LeBron James has lost the opening game for the first time. It is also the first time since 2012, James has lost a first-round playoff series.
Little went right for the Cavs in the first half. James didn’t take a shot until there was 1:52 left in the first quarter. Kevin Love missed back-to-back three-pointers in the opening minutes and didn’t score until late in the second quarter. Seven turnovers — leading to nine Pacers points — in the first quarter didn’t help either.
In the first half, the Cavs trailed by as many as 19 and had brief runs pushed back by the Pacers. Case in point: Cleveland started the second quarter on a 9-1 run, and trailed by 11, when the Pacers called a timeout with 8:47 to go. Less than a minute later, the Pacers were again up by 17 points. Indiana led 55-38 at the half with James the only Cavalier to reach double-figures. The team shot 36.6 percent from the field and 14.3 percent on three-pointers in the first half.
The third quarter started out as much of the same, with Indiana leading by 23 points with 10:23 left. The Cavs remained down by double-digits for most of the quarter, not making a move to get back in the game until back-to-back J.R. Smith three-pointers brought the Cavs within 13 with 3:06 to play. A Love three-pointer with 1:06 to play cut the Pacers’ lead to seven points and the Cavs trailed by eight points heading into the fourth quarter.
Indiana pushes its lead back to 11 points at the start of the fourth and led by as many as 17 in the quarter. A James make with 10:20 to play cut the Pacers’ lead to seven, and prompted a timeout, but Indiana responded by pushing its lead to double-digits less than a minute later. At the 1:59 mark, a Victor Oladipo three-pointer put Indiana up by 17 points, prompting Tyronn Lue to call a timeout and take James, Love and company out the game for good.
James finished with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in 44 minutes. Smith added 15 points off the bench. Oladipo led the Pacers with 32 points.
Up next: Game 2 of Cavs-Pacers is on Wednesday in Cleveland. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.