The NBA is finally back. The city of Cleveland finally raised a championship banner. It was an emotional moment for Cavalier fans. LeBron James and the Cavs became the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. Right next door the Cleveland Indians were hosting game 1 of the World Series. It was a great night for Cleveland.
With all that said there was still a basketball game to be played. The new look New York Knicks came into Cleveland looking to start the season off on a good note.
New Knick Derrick Rose scored the first basket of the NBA season. New York played at a faster pace and Rose looked to get his shots up but they were sloppy with the ball. The only Knick to play well in the first quarter was Carmelo Anthony. He came out on fire scoring 11 of their 18 first quarter points on 5-7 shooting but had three turnovers.
Turnovers killed the Knicks in the quarter. They committed seven which led to nine points for the Cavaliers. LeBron came out on triple-double watch early. He had six points to go along with four rebounds and four assists including a great pass to a cutting J.R. Smith.
When LeBron and Kyrie were not in the game Kevin Love looked for his shot and scored 10 points in the quarter. Cleveland got some good looks but were only 2-10 from 3-point range and shot 35% overall.
The first half was a tale of turnovers. New York came out and coughed up the ball but Cleveland returned the favor in the second quarter with seven turnovers of their own.
Kyrie Irving struggled to find his shot in the first half. He missed a bunch of layups he usually makes and shot 4-12 from the field. The Cavs managed to push their lead to 13 but they missed so many open 3-pointers. They were 4-21 from 3-point range and only shot 37%. LeBron had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the half.
New York went on a 15-2 run to tie the game up at one point. Carmelo did a better job of finding his teammates which led to some open 3-pointers. The Knicks were just 4-12 from downtown during the first half. Derrick Rose got in going in the open floor and scored 10 points in the quarter. Melo only scored one basket but he had a couple assists and no turnovers.
LeBron James was done playing around on opening night. He came out in the third quarter with two monster dunks and a big block on a Courtney Lee layup attempt. When he was dunking he was finding guys for 3-pointers which the Cavs started hitting. They were 5-9 from 3-point range in the quarter. They outscored the Knicks 34-19 and pushed their lead to as many as 21 points.
After a shaky first half Kyrie Irving exploded in the third quarter. He scored 19 points in a variety of ways; 3-pointers, tough layups and even a smooth up and under move.
LeBron James returned in the fourth quarter to get his first career opening night triple double. He finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in just 32 minutes. Kyrie Irving sat out the entire fourth quarter after his big third quarter. He finished with 29 points in just 30 minutes. Kevin Love had 22 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Richard Jefferson continues his strong play off the bench and added 13 points.
New York just could not find a rhythm. Their pace of play slowed down and they held the ball with limited passes. After a strong first quarter Melo only scored eight points the rest of the game. Derrick Rose added eight points after the first half. Two starters, Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah did not score in their Knicks debut. Kristaps Porzingis finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. He shot 3-5 from 3-point range but he did not get the ball enough in the first half.
The Cavs won the game 117-88.
The Cavs go on the road to face the Toronto Raptors in their next game on Friday night.
The Knicks will head home to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.