The Cleveland Cavaliers begun their title defence in earnest against the Indiana Pacers in Quicken Loans Arena this afternoon. LeBron James and his teammates have been looking forward to this moment for weeks now and the capacity crowd was ready to burst from tip-off.
Fans walked up to see t-shirts that say “Defend The Land” on their seats, but the defence in this game has been scarce at best. Each team shot over 50 percent in the first quarter as is common in first games of series in the NBA.
Game one is usually a feeling-out process for both teams as they settle into their sets and try to get comfortable defending the other teams’ actions. Cleveland looks like the team who is the most comfortable, which makes sense because they are at home after all.
LeBron James and his teammates were so comfortable that they ended up shooting over 60 percent from the field during the first half. Kevin Love was super hot from all over the court in the early going, but everything that the Cavs runs goes through James.
Head coach Tyronn Lue drew up a play that shows just how rare the defence was in the early going of this game. Kyrie Irving got a screen from the King and then lobbed him a pass high over all the Pacers who were caught flat-footed watching it all develop.
Not a single blue jersey even moved toward LeBron as he skied to the hoop for what looked like a routine jam. Once he got in the air, he decided that a little spice was in order and he spun around to convert the lob dunk.
Reverse alley-oop conversions are rare over the course of an 82-game season and even more scarce once we get to this time of year.
The fact that the Cavaliers even got away with such a play in the playoffs means that Indiana might want to take a look at their defensive principles.
Cleveland will hope to hang on to this one as it goes down to the wire on their home floor. Lue has to like what he has seen offensively, the challenge for the defending champions will be getting stops against talented players like Paul George and Monta Ellis.
Drama has followed Cleveland every single day since King James returned to the shores of Lake Erie in the summer of 2014. Getting this series over with quickly would help not only with rest, but with the challenges that might await them in later rounds.