LeBron on Game 1 98-80 loss to Pacers “We gotta make shots”

Cavs hit just 38.5 percent from the field to fall down 0-1 in series

Daryl Ruiter
April 15, 2018 - 8:27 pm
Cavaliers forward LeBron James speaks with reporters following their 98-80 loss in Game 1 to Indiana

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – It wasn’t defense that cost the Cleveland Cavaliers in their Game 1 98-80 loss to the Indiana Pacers Sunday afternoon.

It was their offense.

“We gotta make shots,” forward LeBron James said.

James wasn’t lying.

The numbers don’t lie either, and boy, are they ugly from Sunday.

Cleveland shot an anemic 38.5 percent from the field making just 30 of 78 shots in Game 1 that saw them fall behind by as many as 23 points in the third quarter and never lead – not once.

"We just tried to make it tough on LeBron, give him different looks, let him see bodies, get out to shooters as fast as possible and get great contests," Victor Oladipo, who scored 32 points in the win for Indiana, said. "They didn't make shots that they probably normally make. We did a great job defensively just kind giving them different looks everywhere.”

The Cavs averaged 110.9 points per game and shot an average of 47.6 percent from the field during the regular season. Sunday, they scored nearly 31 fewer points and shot 9.1 percent below their regular season averages. 

"We didn't make shots," head coach Tyronn Lue said. "We didn't take shots and we just weren't aggressive enough."

The secret to winning with James is to surround him with sharpshooters, but when those shots aren’t falling, they’re doomed and that's exactly what happened in Game 1.

The Cavs, who averaged 12 makes from 3 and shot 37.2 percent from deep during the regular season, hit just 8 of 34 from beyond the arc in Game 1.

“Guys had great looks and they just didn’t go down,” James said. 

The Cavs also only made 12 of 20 free throws.

Rarely do you win with those numbers. Not in the playoffs anyway.

James finished with his 20th career playoff triple-double that included 24 points, but it came on a 7 of 17 afternoon shooting, including missing from 3 all 4 times.

James also got no help from his fellow starters.

Kevin Love, Rodney Hood and George Hill combined to score 25 points and shoot 10 of 25 from the field. Jeff Green threw up an 0-7 goose egg effort in 26:31 of floor time.

“They were more physical with us at the pint of attack,” James said. “They were more precise with what they wanted to do, and we couldn’t score the ball. Obviously, in this league you’ve got to be able to score the ball, and I think defensively, we were pretty good.

“We gave up 98 points. But 80 is definitely not going to cut it.”

The 80 points was the second-fewest scored in a game this season by the Cavs. They totaled 79 in a loss at Miami on March 27 and they’re now 0-4 this season when scoring less than 89 points in a game.

Over the next 48 hours we’ll hear how the sky is falling and the end is near for the Cavaliers. James won’t because he will tune it out now that his annual ‘Zero Dark 23’ social media blackout has been engaged.

"I mean, I'm down 0-1 in the first round," James 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 sky isn't falling. Not yet. 

But James and his gang better get it together for Game 2 Wednesday night or the over-dramatic narrative destined to follow Game 1 could escalate and include talk of another first for James - a first-round elimination.