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The first playoff game in the careers of Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, along with the first postseason start for Rodney Hood, did not go particularly well in the end.
The Indiana Pacers led from opening tip to final buzzer in dusting the Cleveland Cavaliers, 98-80, in Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Nance had his moments, with 10 points and five boards on 5-of-7 seven shooting, but Clarkson (6 points on 2-of-6 shooting, 1 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) and Hood (9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal) didn’t do much.
“They were just more aggressive than us,” Nance Jr. said.
“We just can’t shoot as tight,” Hood, who shot 4-of-8, said. “We just gotta shoot the ball and if you make it, you make it, and if you miss, you miss. But I think tonight we was tight with all our shots. We gotta hit some free throws as well. So I think, next game we’ll be more relaxed.”
Clarkson denied he felt butterflies.
“Just thinking instead of playing,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’ve just got to go out there and do what you do.”
The playoff neophytes were far from the only guys who had their share of struggles in Game 1. Veteran Jeff Green started the game missed all seven shots he took. Kevin Love was 3-foro-8, Kyle Korver 0-for-3 and Jose Calderon 0-for-3.
The Cavs as a team shot just 38.5 percent from the field (30 of 78), an abysmal 23.5 percent from deep (8 of 34) and 60 percent from the free-throw line (12 of 20).
Even LeBron James, despite posting a triple-double (24 points, 10 boards, 12 dimes) shot just 7-of-17, missing all four of his 3-point attempts and misfired on four free-throw attempts.
“You always hear people say in the regular season sometimes it’s a, ‘playoff-type atmosphere,'” James said. “Eh, you can’t simulate that. You can’t simulate that speed. You can’t simulate what’s going on out there. So, today was definitely a good test for some of our younger guys and like I said, I think they’ll be a lot better especially in Game 2.
“And not just them,” he continued. “Even the older guys as well. Some of the guys even with experience, including myself, I can be a lot better as well. So, we take it as everybody has to dig deep and not lose two of them on our home floor.”