So much for LeBron James and the Cavaliers being rusty after a 10-day layoff, huh?
The Cavaliers struck early and pretty much dominated the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The 117-114 final score really didn't reflect the scope of how much the Wine and Gold controlled the game.
And James was in the center of it all once again.
For the seventh straight playoff game, LeBron scored at least 30 points. For the fifth straight postseason game, he tallied at least 35 points. James finished Game 1 with 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. He's averaging 34 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in the playoffs.
One of those most impressed with what they're seeing in these playoffs from the four-time NBA MVP, is James' former Heat and Cavs teammate Mike Miller. During the fourth quarter of Game 1, Miller tweeted out the following:
Afterwards, LeBron stayed matter-of fact: "For me, the only thing on my mind is how we can execute the best way we can and get a bucket in this possession, either if I can get myself a shot or if I can drive, get my shooters a shot, or if I can get a double-team in the paint or get to the free throw line."
Oh by the way, let's credit James for some improved work at the charity stripe. LeBron was 9-11 from the line in Game 1 and is shooting 73% in these playoffs. That's about a 6% increase from the regular season.
But Wednesday's victory wasn't all about LeBron. Kevin Love scored a playoff career-high 32 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the win over Boston. Apparently James sensed his teammate was ready to bust out with a huge performance. "Well, for me I saw that in Kev this morning. I knew what type of game he was going to have. I mean, he came through for us," LeBron told reporters.
It's one of the aspects that makes the Cavs so dangerous. One night, it's Kyrie Irving making buckets, another it's Kyle Korver. Wednesday was Love's turn and James was eager to make sure the Cavaliers fed the ball to the guy who had the hot hand. "Tonight was one of those instances where every time he got the ball, it was a small guarding him or somebody was in the post, he was aggressive," said LBJ. "He grabbed every rebound for the most part with him and Tristan in the paint, and he was very aggressive with his shot."
But despite the impressive performance at the TD Garden, LeBron still believes he and the Cavaliers are capable of better play. "I don't even think we played that great tonight. We definitely didn't shoot the ball as well as we're capable of shooting. I know Kyle (Korver) had three or four very, very good looks that he missed when we had a good stretch. But I think the energy and the effort and the mindset was where it needed to be starting on the road, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals."
If Game 1 wasn't 'that great,' it's going to be fun to watch the next gear the Cavaliers shift to as these playoffs roll on.