The start to the 2017 NBA Playoffs was as good as fans would have dreamt of with close games, shock results, big performances and action-packed entertainment. The first batch of Eastern and Western Conference First Round encounters had it all.
Cavaliers hold off determined Pacers
The Cleveland Cavaliers were made to work hard for their 109-108 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the Quicken Loans Arena. The Pacers managed to keep pace with the Cavs and closed to within one point of the defending champions but missed the potential game winning shot. LeBron James was instrumental in claiming the win for the hosts. He recorded a double-double of 32 points and 13 assists, the 13th time he’s gone over 30+ points and 10+ assists in a playoff game. Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and Kevin Love added 17 points to the team total.
The Pacers were lead by Paul George who ended the game with 29 points and he also had seven assists. Lance Stephenson weighed in with 16 points off the bench and Jeff Teague scored 15 points as the Pacers fell short.
The Milwaukee Bucks claimed a surprise First Round Game 1 win over the Toronto Raptors, beating them 97-83 in their own backyard. Nigerian-Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo was a beast. He finished the game with 28 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 points and Greg Monroe ended with a 14-point, 15-rebound double-double off the bench. South-Sudanese rookie Thon Maker started the game and scored 4 points and grabbed three rebounds, also blocking three shots.
In this battle of exciting African players Serge Ibaka also held his own, however it was in a losing cause. The Congolese-Spanish big man had a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double and he also blocked three shots. DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points in the defeat. No other Raptors scored in double-digits to leave their fans disappointed.
Jazz snatch win over Clippers in LA
The Utah Jazz continued their impressive regular season form in their Western Conference First Round showdown with the LA Clippers as Joe Johnson came off the bench to star. He scored the buzzer-beating bucket as Utah won 97-95. Rudy Gobert left the game extremely early due to a knee injury on the first play of the game, but the Jazz rallied after that set back. Johnson top-scored for them with 21 points. Gordon Hayward had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. George Hill scored 16 points and Derrick Favours added 15 points to the team total. Senegalese-French veteran Boris Diaw ended the contest with seven points, six assists and four rebounds.
The Clippers saw Blake Griffin get the game’s high-score with 26 points, Chris Paul doubled up with 25 points and 11 assists. DeAndre Jordan also had a double-double with 10 points and 15 boards. Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds.
The San Antonio Spurs had the perfect start to their playoffs odyssey as they beat the Memphis Grizzlies 111-82 in Game 1. The Gasol brothers faced off in this one but it was Kawhi Leonard who drew most of the plaudits as he lead his team to victory. Leonard scored 32 points in the game. LaMarcus Aldridge weighed in with 20 points and Tony Parker rolled back the years to score 18 points. Pau Gasol scored six points and claimed four rebounds.
Marc Gasol shone bright for the Grizzlies as he also scored 32 points, Mike Conley added 13 points to the Memphis score and Andrew Harrison was the only other double-digit scorer for them as he contributed 10 points. The Spurs defense was one of the major reasons they went on to demolish the Grizzlies in San Antonio.
By Cyrus Rogers