The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame the Detroit Pistons 106-101 in a tough contest at the Quicken Loans Arena as the number one seed in the east took a 1-0 series lead.
The visitors put up a good fight throughout the night, leading at the half, but Cleveland’s big three had too much firepower in the end.
LeBron James showed his leadership once again as he ended proceedings with 22 points and 11 assists. Kevin Love had 28 points and 13 rebounds and Kyrie Irving had a game-high 31 points.
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For the Pistons, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope finished with 21 points, Marcus Morris had 20 and Andre Drummond had a 13 point, 11 rebound double-double.
The Cavs took a two-point lead into the second quarter after being down by as many as six in the opening 12 minutes.
Caldwell-Pope had put on a strong showing for the visitors as he dropped 10 points from four of seven from the field. Tyronn Lue subbed in James for the final play and the four-time MVP produced a layup off the glass to give his team the lead.
The eighth seed overturned their deficit to take a five-point lead into the half off the back of some strong shooting throughout their roster.
Caldwell-Pope, in his first ever playoff game, shot 60 percent from three-point territory in the opening 24 minutes of action and the Pistons as a unit ended the half shooting an impressive 61.8 percent from the field.
Morris, at that point, led the game in scoring as he dropped 19 for Stan van Gundy’s team. Off the bench, Steve Blake posted an impressive five assists in just six minutes of action.
For the Cavaliers; James, Love and Irving had combined for 44 of their 53 points. Love shot 42.9 percent for his 18 while the King provided six dimes for his teammates to go with his 12 points.
Irving had a strong third quarter for the Wine and Gold. The point guard dropped ten points as the home team cut the deficit to two points.
The Pistons were hardly known for their three-point shooting during the regular season, but they were dominant from behind the arc at the Quicken Loans Arena. Heading into the final quarter, they had nailed 12 threes at a percentage of 59.
Moments into the fourth, Reggie Bullock dropped a three – Detroit’s 13th of the night – to stretch the lead to seven and force the Eastern Conference’s first seed into a timeout.
The Cavs put together a 7-0 run and were level at 83 courtesy of a James tip, moments after a possible three-point play had been chalked off.
Cleveland had their lead at six midway through the fourth quarter but the Pistons, led by Drummond, who notched a double-double after leading the league with 66 during the regular season, kept it competitive until the final minutes.
With 36 seconds left, James missed a fadeaway jumper to hand Detroit the ball, with them down by four. Jackson missed a layup on the next play and the away team were forced to foul. Irving sunk the two free throws and it was game over in Ohio.
The Cavs’ defence proved to be the difference maker as they limited the Pistons throughout the second half. A telling factor was Morris’ tally of one in the final 24 minutes.
For LeBron and co., it’s a base to build as they pursue a sweep, but the performance will certainly give Detroit hope of at least taking the series to a game five.