Pac­ers stun Cavs on road

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By TOM WITHERS

CLEVE­LAND — 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 the 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-year-old is try­ing to get to his eighth straight Fi­nals, and al­ready the path is tougher than imag­ined. Cleve­land had won 14 straight first-round 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

The Pac­ers took the fight to the Cavs, and In­di­ana’s play­ers are bat­tling crit­ics who say they can’t com­pete with Cleve­land.

“We were def­i­nitely mad,” Stephen­son said. “They still don’t be­lieve. We’re just go­ing to keep prov­ing ev­ery­one wrong and play to­gether.”

While some fans are get­ting their first look at Oladipo, the Pac­ers have seen this be­fore.

“On this team, we all know what Vic­tor can do when he steps on the court,” Thad­deus Young said. “You’ve got to dou­ble-team him be­cause he makes good de­ci­sions with the bas­ket­ball. When you don’t, you saw what he’s ca­pa­ble of.”

• Celtics sur­vive wild fin­ish, hold off Bucks 113-107 in OT

BOS­TON — Bos­ton coach Brad Stevens loves the post­sea­son be­cause it of­fers a chance to “bust nar­ra­tives.”

The Celtics took their first step to­ward shat­ter­ing the be­lief they can’t win with­out their big­gest stars.

Al Hor­ford had 24 points and 12 re­bounds and Bos­ton over­came Khris Mid­dle­ton’s long 3 that beat the fourth-quar­ter buzzer, top­ping the Mil­wau­kee Bucks 113-107 in over­time Sun­day to open the play­offs.

The Celtics led 99-96 with 0.5 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion when Mid­dle­ton took an in­bounds pass on the far right wing and hit a con­tested 35-footer. Bos­ton outscored Mil­wau­kee 14-8 in the ex­tra pe­riod.

Terry Rozier added 23 points, four re­bounds and three as­sists for Bos­ton in his first ca­reer play­off start. Jaylen Brown fin­ished with 20 points. Rookie Jayson Ta­tum added 19 points and 10 re­bounds.

Rozier said he knows he’s un­der a spot­light this post­sea­son with Kyrie Irv­ing out for the sea­son fol­low­ing his re­cent knee surgery.

“I just know I gotta step up,” he said. “I know I gotta fill big shoes. I don’t feel no pres­sure. I’m glad to be in this po­si­tion.”

Game 2 in the best-of-seven se­ries is Tues­day night in Bos­ton.

Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo led the Bucks with 35 points, 13 re­bounds, and seven as­sists be­fore foul­ing out in over­time. Mid­dle­ton had 31 points, eight re­bounds, and six as­sists. Mal­colm Brog­don scored all 16 of his points af­ter half­time.

Af­ter a muted start, things opened for An­te­tok­oun­mpo. But he said he must do a bet­ter job the de­fen­sive end against Hor­ford go­ing for­ward.

“He knows what he’s do­ing down there,” An­te­tok­oun­mpo said. “Hope­fully in Game 2 I won’t play on my heels and I’ll play more on my toes and be able to de­fend with­out foul­ing.”

Part of the rea­son the Bucks were in bad spots is be­cause they were ham­pered by turnovers. They com­mit­ted 20, lead­ing to 27 Bos­ton points.

“That’s not get­ting shot up,” Mid­dle­ton said. “We feel like if we get a shot up, we’ll be good.”

An ac­ro­batic, spin­ning layup by Ta­tum gave Bos­ton a 108-105 lead in over­time.

It was 108-106 when Hor­ford snared a re­bound and got it ahead to Rozier, who was fouled. He made two free throws to put the Celtics in front 110-106 with 18.8 re­main­ing.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo made one of two foul shots with 14.8 sec­onds left, but he fouled out of the game while go­ing for the re­bound on his miss.

Rozier added three free throws to pro­vide the fi­nal mar­gin.

The game went to ex­tra time fol­low­ing a wild fin­ish in reg­u­la­tion that in­cluded backto-back 3-point­ers in the clos­ing sec­onds.

Mil­wau­kee was held to just two field goals over the first seven min­utes of the fourth quar­ter as the Celtics built an 86-76 ad­van­tage.

The Bucks closed to 89-87 be­fore Mar­cus Mor­ris made a fall­ing down jumper just in­side the arc to make it 91-87.

It was 92-91 with less than a minute to play when a pair of free throws by Hor­ford made it 94-91.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo got free for a dunk. But Hor­ford was steady again af­ter be­ing fouled, con­nect­ing on two more from the line with 15.2 sec­onds left.

Out of a time­out, Brog­don got free on the wing and drained a 3 with 10.3 to play to tie it at 96.

Rozier drib­bled the clock down be­fore cross­ing over Eric Bled­soe, step­ping back and swish­ing an ap­par­ent game-win­ner with a half-sec­ond show­ing the clock.

But af­ter a Mil­wau­kee time­out ad­vanced the ball to half court, Mid­dle­ton matched it with his own 3-pointer over Brown as time ex­pired.

“Both teams are go­ing to keep fight­ing,” Bucks coach Joe Prunty said. “That’s what this se­ries is go­ing to be. Each lit­tle play is go­ing to mat­ter.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.