LeBron James in the postseason is like a holiday for NBA fans, with The King himself the faux Santa Claus of the operation. And “Playoff LeBron” — who we’ve all been anxious to see this spring — put up some gaudy numbers in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers: 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Except…the Cavaliers lost. Actually, the Cavs at no point during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round were within even striking distance of the Pacers, who took the opener 98-80.
What a remarkable win it was, too. As LeBron was called off the court with the Cavaliers down nearly 20 in the final minutes, the Pacers had sent The King home with his first ever Game 1 loss in the opening round.
In a Cavaliers regular season that had its peaks and valleys and no shortage of drama, Cavs fans just wanted to get to the postseason, where James always takes it up a notch.
Instead, it was Victor Oladipo and Lance Stephenson who had, at least for one Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, hit the Cavs faithful with a reality check that this wasn’t going to be just your average cakewalk through the East.
No, of all the teams that LeBron has mowed through, it was the duo of two-time-trade-asset-packaged-for-a-star Victor Oladipo and Lance freakin’ Stephenson who put James and the Cavaliers in a spin cycle.
Welcome to the NBA postseason.
Oladipo, who was named an All-Star this season for the first time in his career, was brilliant, stuffing the stat sheet with 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and four assists.
Stephenson, as he’s been all season long, was more so sporadic in his splashy plays, including throwing down a massive jam.
More importantly, he was the one who seemed to rattle James and at certain points of the game distract him from the actual contest, something that won’t show up in the box score.
Getting a triple-double from the Cavs forward? Pretty Playoff LeBron-like.
Not losing by 18 at home in a Game 1.
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