CLEVELAND — From owner Dan Gilbert to coach Tyronn Lue to superstar LeBron James to the end of the roster, Sunday was a horrible day for the Cavaliers.
It added up to an embarrassing 98-80 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series, with shooting guard Victor Oladipo leading the onslaught with 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 6-for-9 on in-your-face 3-pointers.
That’s the same Oladipo who was traded by Oklahoma City over the summer in the deal that sent Indiana’s Paul George to the Thunder, with Gilbert proclaiming the Pacers could have gotten more in return while clearly implying the Cavs offered a better package.
“I’m aware of it,” Oladipo simply said when initially asked about Gilbert’s claim.
When pressed a few minutes later, he quietly added: “I already had fuel. You could say he added fuel to the fire, I guess. That was so long ago, I’m just focused on being the best Victor Oladipo I can be.”
Which leads to Lue and the Cavs, who certainly weren’t the best versions of themselves as Cleveland had a 14-game winning streak in the first round of the playoffs come to an end.
The last time the Cavs lost Game 1 in the first round was in 1998 vs. Indiana, while James entered 12-0 in first-round Game 1s for his career.
That all went out the window rather quickly on a day when Lue played sharpshooter Kyle Korver for the final 3:38 of the first period and never used him again, then announced afterward that the 37-year-old was healthy and had not aggravated a foot injury.
Equally confounding was James not attempting his first official shot until the 1:24 mark of the first quarter, power forward Jeff Green failing to score on 0-for-7 shooting and center Kevin Love missing only 11- and 14-footers and three 3-pointers — he made three others — in an eight-shot, nine-point, 17-rebound afternoon.
That and more — like 8-for-34 shooting from behind the arc and 17 turnovers — resulted in an 80-point afternoon. Cleveland scored fewer points just once the entire regular season (79 at Miami on March 27) and was held under 90 just three times in 82 games.
“We couldn’t score the ball,” said James, who posted his 20th playoff triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. “Obviously, in this league you’ve got to be able to score the ball. ... Eighty is not going to cut it.”
After falling behind 33-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Cavs played much better defense the rest of the day, but still found themselves down 23 points early in the third period.
Cleveland made it an eight-point game heading into the fourth, but never got closer than seven, leaving Lue and his team plenty to think about heading into Game 2 Wednesday at The Q.
“Offensively, we didn’t make shots, didn’t take shots,” Lue said. “We just wasn’t aggressive enough. I thought their pressure really bothered us early.”
Already up 17 at halftime, the Pacers scored six straight points — the Cavs called a timeout 52 seconds into the third period — to go up 23.
Cleveland was still down 19 later in the quarter, but two J.R. Smith 3-pointers, a James inside move, a Larry Nance Jr. drive and a Love three sparked a 13-1 run that made it 70-63 at the two-minute mark.
It would have been even closer, but Nance missed a free throw after his drive, as did Love after his 3-pointer, and the Cavs trailed 73-65 entering the fourth.
“They came in and dictated the tempo,” said James, who was 7-for-17 from the field, 0-for-4 on 3-pointers and 10-for-14 at the line. “They were more aggressive. They just played inspired basketball and took advantage of everything we wanted to do.”
With starters not named James combining for 12 points on 5-for-16 shooting and the entire team going 2-for-14 on 3-pointers, the Cavs trailed 55-38 at intermission and were fortunate to be that close.
Love, who almost never got a touch in the low post, scored his only points of the first half on a three with 1:53 left in the second quarter.
“We need to change our mindset, just being more aggressive, being more physical,” Lue said.
The Pacers, who got 16 points and eight boards from center Myles Turner, 15 points from small forward Bojan Bogdanovic and 12 off the bench from Lance Stephenson, were better in every area in beating the Cavs for the fourth time in five meetings this season, but for the first time since Cleveland added Hill, Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Nance at the trade deadline.
“We already had that belief,” Oladipo said. “We believed we can win. We came into this game with the mentality we were going to attack at both ends of the floor and play the way we played all year. But it’s only one game. We’ve got to get ready for Game 2.”
In a rarity, James stayed on the floor to start the second quarter and Cleveland ran off seven straight points. The Cavs extended that run to 9-1, but with James trying to grab a few minutes of rest, Clarkson played point guard — something Lue said he wanted to avoid prior to the series — and the results weren’t pretty.
Indiana scored six straight points in rapid-fire succession, and though James returned and started getting downhill to cut the deficit to 10, the Pacers regrouped late in the second period, aided greatly by the Cavs missing five straight free throws — three by James and two by Hood — late in the half.
“You can’t ease into the playoffs,” Lue said. “They came in and hit us first and we was never able to recover.”
Things couldn’t have started more poorly for the Cavs, who were 2-for-12 from the field and 0-for-6 on 3-pointers while committing six careless turnovers in falling behind 18-4 with 4:33 left in the opening period.
James didn’t attempt a shot until missing a 3-pointer with 1:24 left and the Cavs down 28-10.
“It was just how the game was flowing,” the 33-year-old said.
As a team, the Cavs were 5-for-20 from the field, 0-for-8 on 3-pointers and had seven turnovers in the opening quarter. Like James, Love was 0-for-3 from the field.
“We’re fully aware of LeBron and this team,” Oladipo said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to come in here and just fold. We plan on winning.”
The Cavs, meanwhile, will have two days to regroup prior to Game 2.
“I get to rest,” said James, who played 44 minutes. “I’ll take the two days. I need to rest.
“I’m down 0-1 in the first round,” he added. “I’ve been down 3-1 in the NBA Finals. I’m the last guy to ask how you’re going to feel the next couple of days.”
Pacers 98, Cavaliers 80
INDIANA (98): Bogdanovic 5-17 4-4 15, T.Young 3-4 1-2 7, Turner 6-9 3-4 16, Collison 2-9 1-2 6, Oladipo 11-19 4-8 32, Booker 1-1 1-2 3, Sabonis 2-4 0-0 4, Joseph 1-5 0-0 3, Stephenson 5-11 1-3 12. Totals 36-79 15-25 98.
CLEVELAND (80): James 7-17 10-14 24, Green 0-7 0-0 0, Love 3-8 0-1 9, Hill 3-7 0-0 7, Hood 4-8 0-2 9, Nance Jr. 5-7 0-1 10, Osman 0-1 0-0 0, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Calderon 0-3 0-0 0, Clarkson 2-6 2-2 6, Smith 6-11 0-0 15, Korver 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 30-78 12-20 80.
Indiana 33 22 18 25 — 98
Cleveland 14 24 27 15 — 80
Percentages: FG .456, FT .600.
3-Point Goals: 11-28, .393 (Oladipo 6-9, Joseph 1-1, Turner 1-2, Collison 1-4, Stephenson 1-4, Bogdanovic 1-6, Sabonis 0-2).
Rebounds: 44 (Turner 8).
Assists: 19 (Collison 6).
Blocked Shots: 4 (Oladipo, Sabonis, T.Young, Turner).
Turnovers: 11 (Oladipo 4, Collison 2, Stephenson 2, Bogdanovic, Booker, Turner).
Steals: 12 (Oladipo 4, Bogdanovic 3, Joseph 3, Collison 2).
Total Fouls: 21. Fouled Out: None.
Technical Fouls: Stephenson, 00:39 third.
Percentages: FG .385, FT .600.
3-Point Goals: 8-34, .235 (Love 3-6, Smith 3-6, Hill 1-3, Hood 1-4, Korver 0-2, Calderon 0-3, Clarkson 0-3, Green 0-3, James 0-4).
Rebounds: 46 (Love 17).
Assists: 21 (James 12).
Blocked Shots: 4 (Green, James, Love, Nance Jr.).
Turnovers: 16 (James 3, Nance Jr. 3, Hill 2, Love 2, Smith 2, Calderon, Green, Hood, Korver).
Steals: 7 (Nance Jr. 2, Clarkson, Hill, Hood, James, Love).
Total Fouls: 23. Fouled Out: None.
Technical Fouls: None.
A—20,562 (20,562). T—2:23.
Officials—John Goble, Bennie Adams, Zach Zarba
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