Breakfast Special: Weekend Game 1 Roundup

It was a busy weekend in the NBA as the playoffs got up and running, and if the saying holds true that “a series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game”, well, a couple of series just got started, including one blowout…

Pacers 1, LeBron’s Impenetrable First-Round Reputation 0

LeBron James is supposed to be this magical superman who can singlehandedly will a terrible team to somehow not be terrible even though he was on and played all 82 games for that team.

And with the Pacers winning 98-80 in Cleveland on Sunday, the biggest margin of the day’s four games, in a game where LeBron had a triple-double but was minus-13 overall and shot just 7-of-17 on a night his team shot 38.2 percent overall, well…

Sure, he had 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. And sure, Kevin Love had nine points and 17 rebounds.

But the Cavs still got blown out on a day where Bojan Bogdanovic shot just 5-of-17, the Pacers shot 15-of-25 from the free throw line, and Cleveland got more rebounds.

Five extra turnovers on Cleveland’s part helped Indiana; so did the Cavs matching Indy’s free throw percentage (60 percent; the Cavs shot 12-of-20).

And Victor Oladipo recording 32 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals, and a block helped as well.

But what we’re left wondering is “does this Cleveland team just suck so bad that even LeBron can’t get them out of the first round?”

Before the playoffs started, Pacers fans united around “Pacers in 6.” The road game portion of such an outcome is in play.

Oladipo’s the man of the match:

Pelicans 1, Collapsing Trail Blazers 0

The Blazers should’ve wrapped up third place well before the season ended.

Instead, they lost four in a row before beating the Jazz for the division title in the season’s final game.

They were only one game better than the Pelicans (49-33 vs. 48-34) but the teams were seeded third and sixth.

And Anthony Davis‘s 35 points, Rajon Rondo‘s 17 assists, and Portland shooting a woeful 37.8 percent from the field meant the Pellies got the win in Game 1, showing why they were one of the best road squads (24-17, same as their home record) in the West.

If the Blazers hadn’t controlled the offensive glass for 15 extra possessions off the offensive rebound, they might’ve been blown out.

But a loss is a loss; nobody cares about aggregate point differential in the playoffs. A win by 1 and a win by 30 count the same in the regular season, but they mean the same in the playoffs. Either you won or you lost.

The Pelicans just cranked up the pressure, and now Moda Center’s hearing Queen in their nightmares.

It’s probably best not to point out that this is the first playoff win of the Brow’s career, since he has up to this point been a Great Stats Bad Team guy.

The Near-Theft of Game 1 in Boston

Terry Rozier thought he had the dagger plunged into the Bucks’ backs, but Khris Middleton had other ideas, and it looked to all accounts like the team that seizes momentum into overtime tends to win the game.

Until the Celtics got it together, beat the hell out of Milwaukee in overtime, and sent Giannis Antetokounmpo and company back to their hotel to stew over letting a potential series-changer get away.

Boston won 113-107, winning the extra frame 14-8, winning the turnover battle overall 20-15, shooting 42.3 percent from long range, and riding five players with at least 19 points (and just six points from the rest of the team) to the win.

The finish was a ton of fun, especially if you’re a Celtics fan:

Lightning Round!

Houston almost fluffed it against Minnesota, but remember what I said up there about one point and 30 points being the same functional result?

Houston held serve. They shot a horrific 27 percent from three, got out-rebounded 47-37, had Chris Paul turn it over six times…

…but got 44 points from James Harden and a 24-point, 12-rebound, 10-of-15 shooting outburst from Clint Capela to secure the 104-101 victory.

In addition, Houston’s bench had zero turnovers in 68 combined minutes.

Harden got the job done:

On the other hand, winning by 27, the biggest margin in any Game 1 over the weekend, does send a statement.

And the Philadelphia 76ers want the league to know they don’t plan on losing another game for the entire rest of the playoffs after winning 16 straight to end the regular season.

Win 16 straight in the playoffs and they call that running the table. Nobody’s ever done it. Cleveland spoiled Golden State’s attempt by winning Game 4 of last year’s Finals.

Ben Simmons had 17 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds in his playoff debut, a game in which Philly poured in 18 threes in the 130-103 win:

The Spurs look outmanned and outgunned, and the Warriors outright smoked them 112-91 in the playoff opener in Oakland.

Golden State doesn’t have Stephen Curry. What they do have is three All-Stars, and it’s silly to consider them vulnerable against a team whose best player, LaMarcus Aldridge, is pretty lousy, a midrange jump-shooting counting stat hound who, if he’s your best player, you’re not winning anything.

As if to illustrate this point, Aldridge was an inefficient 5-of-12 in getting his 14 points.

Meanwhile, the Dubs hit 54.3 percent of their shots, powered by Klay Thompson‘s 11-of-13 night shooting in which he got 27 points.

But Kevin Durant‘s your man of the match:

Toronto held serve at home, beating Washington 114-106, a game in which Serge Ibaka led them in scoring with 23 and Delon West scored 18 off the bench, the team’s second-best total.

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were mediocre, combining for 29 points on 10-of-26 (38.5 percent), but the Raps still just outgunned the Wizards in a typical 1-8 game.

And finally, the Thunder beat the Jazz 116-108, but Paul George had to play out of his mind for the Thunder to pull it off.

PG13 had 36 points including 8-of-11 from long range, Russell Westbrook was two assists shy of a triple-double, and OKC shot 48.3 percent overall from three against 39.3 for the Jazz.

If Oklahoma City is this good for the rest of the series, they’ll win easily.

But something tells the viewer that “Playoff P” isn’t going to shoot 72.7 percent beyond the arc every game.

Westbrook’s the man of the match, however:

We’ll have weekend roundups on Mondays throughout the playoffs; we’re adding a Saturday Breakfast Special to handle Friday’s games; normal service is otherwise exactly what you’d expect, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!