The NBA is finally back and Kyrie Irving was making his return to Cleveland. He made the first basket of the NBA season with a nice floater in the lane. After that the game didn’t really matter.
Gordon Hayward went up to finish an alley-oop and he came down wrong. At first nobody knew what happened and then Kevin Harlan stopped mid-sentence. All the players on the court turned quickly and begin to pray. Hayward was taken off on a stretcher. It was later reported that he suffered a fractured ankle. He played five minutes.
It took a while for the crowd and even the players to get back into the game. On the Celtics side Kyrie Irving scored six points in the first quarter. He is still masterful with the basketball. Jaylen Brown was really aggressive as he scored seven points; he looked terrible shooting 3-pointers though.
For Cleveland LeBron James played at his pace, picking his spots. His first highlight of the year was a block on rookie Jayson Tatum. James found his groove as he finished with four points, four rebounds and four assists in the first. The new backcourt of Dwayne Wade and Derrick Rose looked alright. Rose attacked Irving off the dribble and was able to get some easy transition baskets.
Tristan Thompson was the first Cavs player off the bench and his energy was felt immediately as he scored five points and grabbed three rebounds. JR Smith came in firing and scored eight points in the half. The Cavs ended the first quarter on a 14-2 run.
The lead got as high as 18 points in the first half for the Cavaliers. The Celtics shot just 34% in the first half. They were 0-10 from 3-point range until the eight-minute mark in the 2nd quarter. They were just 2-16 from deep. Kyrie was not aggressive in the quarter, he hit a few tough fadeaway jumpers but finished with just nine points in the half to go along with five assists. Jaylen Brown led the way for the Celtics with 12 points. Rookie Tatum was rushing his shots and was 0-5 from the field.
New addition Jae Crowder scored 11 points for the Cavs. He was always around the ball making solid defensive plays while cutting and hitting open shots. Rose and Wade combined for 12 points in the half. Although he didn’t score Jeff Green was able to show his versatile by guarding Al Horford on one possession then chasing Kyrie Irving around on another. LeBron just played at a cool pace as he shot 6-8 in the half. He had 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists. The Cavs were ahead 54-38 at the half.
Boston came out with new energy after halftime. They forced turnovers and were able to get easy transition baskets to cut into the Cavs lead. After going scoreless in the first half; rookie Jayson Tatum scored 10 points in the quarter. Marcus Smart was also scoreless in the first half and he added 12 points. He was able to destroy Kyle Korver every time. Irving and Brown continued to play well; Brown scored eight points and Irving added six. The Celtics outscored the Cavs 33-18 and had the lead briefly before Derrick Rose hit a buzzer beater to give the Cavs a 72-71 lead heading into the fourth.
Cleveland was just sloppy all around. Besides a spin move and dunk from LeBron James the Cavs had nothing to be happy about. They played Iso ball and took contested shots the entire quarter. They had more turnovers in the 3rd quarter than the entire first half. They shot just 32% from the field.
Cleveland came out with better energy in the fourth but the Celtics were able to take the lead on a Kyrie Irving 3-pointer with nine minutes in the fourth. It was a back and forth game in the fourth as both teams struggled to hit shots. Wade and LeBron made some big blocks for the Cavs.
Kyrie Irving scored nine points in the fourth to keep the Celtics in it late. It was not enough as the Cavs ended the game on a 7-1 run. LeBron James scored 13 points in the quarter to lead the Cavs to a 102-98 win on opening night.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 25 points, Kyrie Irving added 22 points and 10 assists; his first double-double on opening night. Rookie Jayson Tatum added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Marcus Smart shot poorly but added 12 points and nine rebounds.
LeBron James was supposed to be on a minute’s restriction but led the game with 41 minutes as he scored 29 points on 12-19 shooting, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out nine assists. Kevin Love hit the go ahead 3-pointer as he finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The backcourt struggled in the 2nd half as Wade and Rose shot a combined 8-24 from the field. The Cavs bench scored 25 points.
The Celtics are at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
The Cavaliers head on the road to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.