2017 NBA Playoffs: Cavs survive Pacers, Greek Freak rules, Joe Jesus saves

Here’s what happened on day one of the 2017 NBA Playoffs

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers 109 – #7 Indiana Pacers 108

The Indiana Pacers trailed by as much as 12 points in this one, but had a chance to steal victory late. Paul George’s triple got them within a point, 109-108, then LeBron James missed when he tried to answer back. With 20 seconds to go, the Pacers sued for time, then got the ball back to George. Cleveland double-teamed him aggressively though, forcing him to pass the ball to CJ Miles who missed at the buzzer.

The Cavs were expected to “flip the switch” and romp away with this one. They had stretches of strong defense, but it was far from a complete effort. LeBron James had a game-best 32 points, plus six rebounds and 13 assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 on 27 shots, while Kevin Love was good for 17 markers. Cleveland was just 14-of-27 from the stripe.

Paul George led the Pacers with 29 points, canning 6-of-8 triples. Lance Stephenson came off the bench and added 16 markers and seven boards.

#6 Milwaukee Bucks 97 – #3 Toronto Raptors 83

The Greek Freak left his mark in game one of this series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was everywhere, hauling his team to victory, behind a 28-point, eight-rebound, three-assist outing. Milwaukee clamped down in the second half, allowing just 32 points from the Raptors, who lost another game one in the postseason.

As impressive as Antetokounmpo was, he got a ton of help. Greg Monroe came off the bench and provided a double-double of 14 points and 15 rebounds. Tony Snell and Malcolm Brogdon went 7-of-14 from downtown, combining for 27 points. Thon Maker had a superb stretch in the third, putting up four points, three boards, and three swats.

For Toronto, it was a familiar problem. The defense keyed in on the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They were 9-of-32 from the field, 0-of-8 from downtown. DeRozan did get to the stripe and hit 13-of-14 charities, for 27 points, but Lowry could only manage four markers.

#2 San Antonio Spurs 111 – #7 Memphis Grizzlies 82

The Memphis Grizzlies started strong, only to eventually run out of gas.

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley got the visiting Griz going early, combining for 21 in a 30-25 first period where they led by as much as 13 markers. But the Spurs weren’t fazed and leaned on their defense to shut Memphis down. San Antonio didn’t give up a 20-point or more quarter the rest of the way.

Kawhi Leonard tied his postseason-high of 32 points, hitting 11-of-14 from the field, 9-of-9 from the stripe. LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 on 18 attempts, and Tony Parker looked deadly, tallying 18 markers.

Marc Gasol finished with 32 points. Mike Conley’s hot start tapered off, ending with 13 on 14 tries.

#5 Utah Jazz 97 – #4 LA Clippers 95

The Utah Jazz lost Rudy Gobert just seconds into the game. And yet they managed to hang on for the win.

Joe Johnson nailed the game-winner, stealing game one for his Jazz side. Utah had a seven-point lead late, whittled down to a point twice in the final four minutes of action. After Blake Griffin charities, Derrick Favors split at the line to make it 95-93, 18.7 seconds left. Off a timeout, Chris Paul banked in the equalizer, but in response, the Jazz didn’t use their cease-fire, and instead got Johnson matched up against Jamal Crawford, leading to the deciding shot.

Johnson top-scored for Utah with 21 off the bench. Gordon Hayward added 19 points and 10 boards, while George Hill chipped in 16 markers.

Blake Griffin led LA with 26 points, but turned the ball over a team-high six times. Chris Paul had 25 markers and 11 dimes, plus three steals.

Photo by Getty Images

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