It didn't take Kyrie Irving long to acclimate to the intensity of the postseason. The star point guard led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a win in Game 1 of their first-round playoff match up against the Celtics with a game-high 30 points.
Not many are giving Boston a chance in this series, despite the fact that they tallied more wins than any team in the Eastern Conference since the beginning of February. With the odds stacked against them, you have to admire the way that the Celtics came out of the gate showing no fear by punching the Cavs right in the mouth with 31 first-quarter points to take an early lead.
The Cavs would counter with a run in the second quarter, as Irving started to take over. He used a nifty cross-over move to create some space from Evan Turner to drill a buzzer beating three-pointer to end the half with 20 points, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Kyrie Irving's buzzer beater to end the first half: http://t.co/qZF3kA08Fl— Sean Penney (@spenney83) April 19, 2015
Kevin Love is the other member of Cleveland's big three getting his first taste of playoff action. The bright lights of the postseason didn't seem to faze him either, as he finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Oh yea, then there is that LeBron guy. He's no stranger to this stage, having won a couple of titles during his time with the Miami Heat. He may not have been the main story of this game, but he chipped in with 20 points to go with 6 boards and 7 assists.
Boston appeared rattled by a series of questionable calls (and non-calls) that didn't go their way. Their frustration began to boil over, leading to sloppy play that put them in a hole of more than 20 points in the third quarter. The Celtics would fight their way back into the game, but the deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
Isaiah Thomas impressed in his postseason debut, scoring 22 points off the Boston bench, along with 10 assists. Thomas ended up being one of only two players on the team to finish with a positive +/- figure at +5. Jonas Jerebko was a +1 in 19 minutes off the bench.
Boston's scoring was spread around the lineup, with 6 players scoring in double figures. Avery Bradley wasn't one of them, finishing with only 7 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Bradley sat out the final game of the regular season with a quad injury that may still be bothering him.
Cleveland takes Game 1, which should come as no surprise to anyone. For Boston, this series is more about showing they can compete on this stage and perhaps steal a game or two. It's a valuable experience for their young core that will only help them grow.