After two days of games, the Eastern Conference is clearly the more competitive conference. The Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, and Thunder all had amazingly one-sided performances when they played, the polar opposite of the rival coast. Of the four game ones played in the East, the Heat recorded the largest margin of victory as they dismantled Charlotte, 123-91. Cleveland fought a vicious battle against the Pistons and emerged as victors, 106-101.
Heat vs. Hornets
The Heat are, arguably, one of the worst offensive teams in the postseason, but such a dominant defense has carried them through the season. In their 32-point thrashing of the Hornets, the Heat set franchise records for most points in a playoff game (123), and most points in a quarter in a playoff game (41).
Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside carried the Heat in their record-setting first quarter with 14 and ten points, respectively. Miami finished the quarter shooting 15/22 (68%) and displayed marvelous ball movement by recording 11 assists. Charlotte had a hard time against the stifling Heat defense and shot 5/14 (36%) en route to 22 points. The Hornets were very aggressive, however, and went to the free throw line 13 times, hitting ten.
At the half, Miami held a 67-50 lead behind 18 points from Luol Deng and 12 from both Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside. Nic Batum was the only Hornet who left a mark on the offense, and he entered the break with 20. Kemba Walker, the team’s leading scorer, had just nine points on 3/6 shooting.
Deng and Whiteside continued to be tremendous for Miami and combined for 16 of the Heat’s 30 third quarter points. Walker surpassed his scoring total from the first half and bucketed ten points on 3/6 shooting. Batum wasn’t very aggressive and attempted just two shots in the third. Having a 23-point lead heading into the fourth, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dorell Wright, and Luol Deng had 21 of Miami’s 26 final points.
Deng was the game’s leading scorer and finished with 31 points and seven rebounds. Hassan Whiteside had a double-double with 21 points and 11 board and added three blocks; Goran Dragic almost double-doubled with ten assists and nine points. Nic Batum was the Hornets’ leading scorer with 24, and Kemba Walker finished with 19.
Game two is set for Wednesday, April 20 at 7:00 PM EST in Miami.
Cavaliers vs. Pistons
A young Pistons franchise showed absolutely no fear going up against the powerhouse Cavaliers. Reggie Jackson is the lone starter for the Pistons with any playoff experience, and he wasn’t even the best player for Detroit. Cleveland, however, is the best team in the East for a reason. The big three of Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving played some great basketball as the Cavs edged out Detroit.
Before it was all said and done, the lead changed 17 times and the scored tied 21. The first quarter alone featured five lead changes, and the Cavs took a 27-25 lead when LeBron hit a layup off an inbounds pass. James finished with ten points and four assists while Love and Irving scored five each. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was red-hot in the first and had ten points for the Pistons, followed by Marcus Morris, who had eight.
Morris stayed hot through the second quarter and scored 11 as the Pistons exercised a 33-point second quarter. Stanley Johnson nailed two threes to add to the lead, and the Pistons shot 65% as a team in the period. Kevin Love had 13 points despite 4/10 shooting in the quarter, and Kyrie Irving trailed him with nine.
Cleveland trailed 58-53 heading into the third, and then it was Kyrie’s turn to get hot. Irving led the Cavs with ten points, and they finished with 23. James and Love combined for just six points, but LeBron orchestrated the offense and handed out three assists while Love did his thing and grabbed four boards. Andre Drummond had nine points, and seven rebounds as Detroit entered the fourth with a 78-76 lead.
James, Love, and Irving brought all their effort together in the final quarter. They combined for 21 of Cleveland’s 30 points, and their solid defense held the Pistons to 38% shooting and 23 points. Reggie Jackson had the hot hand and recorded ten.
Kyrie Irving had 31 to lead all scorers; Kevin Love had 28 points and 13 rebounds and LeBron James had 22 points and 11 assists. The Pistons were led by KCP’s 21 points, Reggie Jackson’s 17 points and seven assists and Andre Drummond‘s 13 points and 11 boards.
Game two is set for Wednesday, April 20 at 8:00 PM EST in Cleveland.