Whether it was first-game jitters or evenly matched opponents, it wasn’t easy for the favorites Saturday. Third-seeded Toronto was overwhelmed by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 28 points and blown out 97-83 by Milwaukee, while the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers were edged 97-95 by Utah on Joe Johnson’s basket as time expired.
The Cavaliers escaped with a 109-108 victory when C.J. Miles missed a jumper at the buzzer.
James refused to allow himself to consider the consequences if Miles, a notorious “Cavs killer” who has had several big games against his former team, had knocked down his shot.
“If I didn’t get that block last year in the Finals, what happens?” James said when asked how the Cavs would have handled a loss. “There’s so many (hypotheticals). You can’t look at a game like that. He missed, we won. So if it’s not a rain delay in Cleveland here in the World Series, then we win the World Series? Listen, you can’t ask that question, man.
“It is what it is.”
The Cavaliers improved to 9-0 in the first round since the return of James, who had 32 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.
San Antonio looked as if it might be in trouble — for 10 minutes. But Leonard seized control of the game at both ends, finishing with 32 points as the Spurs overcame their early 13-point deficit to beat the Grizzlies 111-82.
The Spurs blew it open with a 19-0 run over the third and fourth quarters, shutting out Grizzlies guard Mike Conley in the second half.
“I just try to do something on the defensive end,” Leonard said. “At that time, they were making every shot. When they go up and they’re shooting at 75 percent in those first couple of minutes, you have to put your hat on on the defensive end.”
Some things to know about tonight’s Pacers-Cavaliers matchup in Cleveland:
Pacers at Cavaliers, Cleveland leads 1-0. Game 2, 7 p.m., FSO/TNT
NEED TO KNOW: James has won 18 straight games in the first round and Cleveland has won 12 in a row at home in the postseason.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Cleveland’s free-throw shooting. The Cavs were just 14-of-27, the kind of performance that often comes back to bite a team — and nearly did.
“We can play better and we will play better,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “We missed 13 free throws, turned the ball over and got 19 points in transition. The playoffs are about adjustments and what you can do better. ... Hats off to them, they played well. But we’ll be better.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Pacers are still listing backup big man Al Jefferson (sprained left ankle) and Glenn Robinson III (sore left calf) as questionable.
PRESSURE IS ON: Paul George. Indiana’s All-Star made it clear after Game 1 he needs to take the last shot. So if the Pacers get another chance, he better not miss it.