Cleveland pulls out Game 1 win over Detroit
Prediction: Cavs in 4
The Cavs took Game 1 of their first-round series against the Pistons behind a big effort from the Cavs’ Big Three, with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving combining to score 81 of Cleveland’s 106 points. LeBron James did LeBron James things with 22 points, 11 boards, six assists, two steals, two blocks and just one turnover through 41 minutes of play, and Kyrie Irving dominated his matchup putting up 31 points, five boards, six assists, five triples, two steals, one block and one turnover in 38 minutes. Kevin Love also joined the party, going off for 28 points with 13 boards, one assist, four 3-pointers, one steal and two turnovers, and he was there for Cleveland every time they needed a crucial bucket. Love’s 33.5 usage rate ranked second amongst the Cavs, only a few decimal points off from Kyrie Irving’s team-leading 34.2 usage rate, and he created some major problems for the Pistons when Tyronn Lue elected to go small and put in Love at the five-spot. With Love serving as the starting power forward and backup center, Channing Frye picked up a DNP-CD and Timofey Mozgov was limited to five minutes off the bench. Given that the result was a win, I’d imagine that Love will be logging major minutes for the remainder of Cleveland’s first-round series, and he should be putting up nice stat lines in the process.
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Johnson, a 19-year-old rookie, did not back down from the challenge of guarding King James and he made things difficult for James during his time on the court. While Johnson did only manage to log 16 minutes off the bench, Stan Van Gundy acknowledged after the game that he should have played him more, and Tobias Harris less. It’ll be interesting to see what Van Gundy’s rotations look like for Game 2, but I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of Johnson after he put up nine points, eight boards and three triples in limited minutes.
Drummond’s inability to hit free throws forced SVG to yank him during crunch time, and it’ll be interesting to see how Van Gundy handles the Hack-A-Dre situations moving forward. Given that Aron Baynes only managed to produce three points and no other statistics during his 11 minutes on the court, Van Gundy may want to just take his chances with Drummond at the line.
Miami blows out Charlotte in Game 1 win
Prediction: Heat in 4
Miami obliterated Charlotte on their way to a Game 1 victory behind Luol Deng’s game-high 31 points on 11-of-13 shooting. Deng didn’t even miss his first shot until the second quarter of action, and he rounded out his stat line with seven boards, one assist, one steal and four triples, which gave him a ridiculous effective field goal percentage of 100.0 on the evening. Hassan Whiteside was also impressive, registering a double-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, three swats and just one turnover in 26 minutes. Miami made the win look easy, and I’d be surprised if Charlotte can even pull out a single W in their first-round matchup.
Nicolas Batum (ankle) returned to action after missing the Hornets’ final game of the regular season, and scored a team-high 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with three 3-pointers, two boards, one assist, two steals and three turnovers in 40 minutes. The ankle probably isn’t 100 percent, but the heavy minutes total and usage rate (28.6) suggests that he’ll be just fine for Game 2 on Wednesday. Kemba Walker was the only other Charlotte starter to reach double-figures in the scoring department, producing 19 points, two triples, one assist, one rebound and two turnovers in his 32 minutes. Ball movement was a problem for the Hornets, as only two players managed to register more than a single assist (Jeremy Lin and Frank Kaminsky), and that trend simply cannot continue if the Hornets want to have any shot at upsetting the Heat.
San Antonio takes Game 1 in convincing fashion over Memphis
Prediction: Spurs in 4
The Spurs destroyed a Memphis team that gritted and grinded their way into the postseason, and there really wasn’t much to take away from the 106-74 blowout. Kawhi Leonard was phenomenal in his 29 minutes of court time, tallying 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with three trey-bombs, two boards, four steals, three swats and just one turnover. Leonard also knocked down his only free throw attempt, giving him a sterling 74.4 true shooting percentage on the evening. Tony Parker also went to work with a matchup against Jordan Farmar/Xavier Munford, registering 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with six assists, a rebound and three turnovers in a mere 21 minutes of floor time. The Grizzlies really don’t have a true defensive presence in the post, and they’re starting non-starters at the point guard position, so Parker should have an easy time putting points on the board during San Antonio’s first-round series.
The Grizzlies were a predictable mess with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley in street clothes against the No. 2 seeded Spurs, and with those guys done for the year, Memphis has roughly a zero percent chance of upsetting San Antonio. Vince Carter led the team in scoring, hitting 6-of-7 shots on his way to 16 points, three boards, two triples, and two assists, but you’d have to be a fool to think that the 39-year-old veteran will be able to continue his efficient ways against the Spurs vicious defense. In fact, it’s going to be tough to depend on any of the Memphis guys for DFS purposes. Zach Randolph went 3-of-13 from the field on his way to six points, five boards, three assists and three turnovers, Matt Barnes scored just two points without offering much else during his 23 minutes on the court, and Lance Stephenson tallied 14 points, two boards, two assists, one steal and one turnover in 29 minutes off the bench.
Los Angeles Clippers secure Game 1 victory over Portland
Prediction: Clippers in 5
The Clippers flexed their muscles during a 115-95 stomping of the Trail Blazers, and there was little Portland could do to slowdown Los Angeles’ Big Three. Chris Paul was fabulous during his 33 minutes of floor time, tallying 28 points, 11 assists, six boards, two 3-pointers, two steals and two turnovers; and Blake Griffin was looked to early and often as he ended his night with 19 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, one steal, one swat and two turnovers in 32 minutes. Griffin looked a bit rusty when he initially returned to the court following a 45-game absence, but he appears to have completely returned to form.
DeAndre Jordan looked like a man amongst boys as he thoroughly dominated the paint, pulling down 12 boards to go with 18 points, one assist, one steal and four swats in 32 minutes. The Blazers really don’t have a guy that can truly compete with Jordan’s size, so he should have no trouble producing monster stat lines during the Clippers’ first-round series.
Damian Lillard was the only guy to come through for the Portland starters, and he ended his night with 21 points, eight assists, three triples, two boards, one steal and four turnovers in 38 minutes. Unfortunately for Thrillard, he didn’t get much help at all from his teammates, with Al-Farouq Aminu hitting just 3-of-12 shots (and missing a ton of wide open ones), Mason Plumlee going 1-of-6 from the field, and C.J. McCollum joining the crew of unproductive starters with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting, two boards, three assists, one 3-pointer and two turnovers. Doc Rivers elected to have Luc Mbah a Moute matchup with McCollum, and his length really bothered McCollum on the offensive end. I do think that this Blazers team has too much heart to simply suffer a series sweep, but in terms of advancing to the second round, that just seems highly unlikely.