Pac­ers shock James and Cav­a­liers

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page -

CLEVE­LAND (AP) — LeBron James fig­ured he had ex­pe­ri­enced ev­ery­thing in 12 post­sea­sons.

Turns out, there was some­thing new.

Vic­tor Oladipo scored 32 points and In­di­ana out­played Cleve­land from the start while pulling off a stun­ning 98-80 vic­tory Sun­day in the se­ries opener, hand­ing James and the Cav­a­liers' their first loss in the open­ing round in eight years.

It also was the first play­off-open­ing loss for James, who came in 12-0 in Game 1s and didn't re­al­ize he had been per­fect start­ing the post­sea­son.

"Is it?" James said. "I've never lost a game in the first round be­fore in my ca­reer?

But while he knows the nar­ra­tive be­fore Wed­nes­day's Game 2 will be on the strug­gles of Cleve­land's play­off new­com­ers, James isn't wor­ried.

"I'm down 0-1 in the first round," he said. "I was down 3-1 in the Fi­nals. So, I'm the last guy to ask about how you're go­ing to feel the next cou­ple days."

The Pac­ers are feel­ing con­fi­dent af­ter beat­ing the Cavs for fourth time this sea­son.

In­di­ana took con­trol from the out­set, open­ing a 21-point lead in the first quar­ter and push­ing it to 23 in the third. The Cavs got within seven in the fourth, but Oladipo, once a role player who has blos­somed into an All-Star in his first sea­son with In­di­ana, hit a big 3-pointer and Bo­jan Bog­danovic helped put Cleve­land away with a 3 to make it 88-71.

When the fi­nal horn sounded, the Pac­ers didn't cel­e­brate or run around the floor like they had ac­com­plished any­thing spe­cial.

They calmly walked off, busi­ness as usual.

"We be­lieve that we can win," Oladipo said. "We came into this game with a men­tal­ity that we wanted to at­tack on both ends of the floor and play the way we've been play­ing all year, and we did a great job of that. It's only one game, it's only Game 1."

The Pac­ers com­pletely out­played the three-time de­fend­ing con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons, whose tur­bu­lent reg­u­lar sea­son has car­ried over into the play­offs.

James scored 24 with 12 as­sists and 10 re­bounds for his 20th ca­reer triple-dou­ble. But James got lit­tle help as Cleve­land's four other starters — Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Rod­ney Hood and George Hill — com­bined for 25 points.

"They were more ag­gres­sive," James said. "They just played in­spired bas­ket­ball and they just took ad­van­tage of ev­ery­thing we wanted to try and do. They were more phys­i­cal than us at the point of at­tack, and they were most pre­cise with what they wanted to do and we couldn't score the ball."

Cleve­land went just 8 of 34 on 3-point­ers and missed eight of 20 free throws.

The Cavs' play­off theme is: "What­ever It Takes."

Well, it's now go­ing to take a first-round come­back.

This is all new to James, who had won 21 con­sec­u­tive first-round games and lost a post­sea­son for the first time in his 13th play­offs. The 33-yearold is try­ing to get to his eighth straight Fi­nals, and al­ready the path is tougher than imag­ined. Cleve­land had won 14 straight firstround games, last los­ing on April 22, 2010, the last sea­son of James' first stint with the Cavs.

In­di­ana was swept by Cleve­land in last year's open­ing round. Those Pac­ers, though, didn't have Oladipo or the bal­ance of this Indy squad, which may lack ex­pe­ri­ence but not con­fi­dence.

Lance Stephen­son, a long­time play­off neme­sis for James, helped set the tone in the first quar­ter with a dunk he punc­tu­ated by throw­ing sev­eral punches into the padded bas­ket stan­chion

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