Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets make winning starts in National Basketball Association semi-finals

The Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA's Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday, May 1, 2017 (5/1/17).

It was a rough night all around for the Raptors, who struggled to get clean shots and buckets, plus let the Cavaliers get into a rhythm offensively.

CLEVELAND - LeBron James rests better than everyone, too.

He didn't swipe that beer from a courtside server in a celebratory moment after getting fouled, as comfortable as if he was in his living room, and chug a beer right there in the third quarter. Frankly, the score is misleading as the Wine and Gold were in command for most of the game.

"I'm not going to run over our beer lady", James said. "We competed but I don't think we executed in a very wise manner". In last year's Eastern Conference finals, Jones was suspended for striking the Raptors' Bismack Biyombo in the groin at the end of Game 3.

The matchup that will decide this series is LeBron James vs. whatever number of bodies Dwane Casey and the Raptors decide to throw at him. Of everything that was said, that was the truth of the series.

LeBron James is a real-life cheat code.

Smith continued his defensive dominance against DeRozan, who finished Game 1 7-of-16 from the field.

Can they do it again, or will Toronto cause them problems?

The Raptors did get an impressive 13 points out of P.J. Tucker in just 26 minutes but even that wasn't enough to sway the momentum. "That's what I'm saying, things can change".

But there was nothing stale about these Cavs as the two teams renewed playoff acquaintances after last year's 4-2 Eastern Conference final win by the Cavs. Cleveland was vulnerable: their defence was crap. We missed a few shots. Are they throwing missiles? Cleveland led the conference with three All-Star selections, and Toronto was the only other East team with multiple All-Stars.

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James' legs looked fresh early on as he and Irving teamed up on a stunning alley-oop. He said the team's medical staff told him there was no structural damage.

And the way National Basketball Association contracts work, players don't get paid in the playoffs. Fine, how see where this is going. The Cavaliers cranked up their defence, and the Raptors couldn't hang with them.

One year after the Cleveland Cavaliers knocked the Toronto Raptors out of the playoffs, they have a chance to get revenge on the LeBron James-led squad. It wears on a team and then it's 96-71 Cleveland late in the third quarter. He was practically dancing, on the way to 35 points.

Fro whatever reason, the current Raptors can't find a proper gear for Game 1s, having now failed against Cleveland twice, as well as Milwaukee, Miami, Indiana, Washington and Brooklyn over the past four years.

The Cavs have been able to rest up, but I am not sure that is going to help them really pick up a large win today.

"We have to worry about Game 1 first".

Yeah. The Raptors are down 1-0, and miles behind.

Kevin Love has done an excellent job early on in games when Cleveland has run set plays created to get him the ball. The Raptors can shoot better, be more physical, move the ball better, defend better. They've got a lot of fight in them.

The Cavs have beaten the Raptors soundly in the four playoff games in Cleveland over the past two years, winning by an average margin of 24.8 points. LeBron isn't scared of Kevin Durant, or Steph Curry. Before the game Casey was asked about previous year, and he detailed all the problems LeBron creates, one by one. Larry Hughes followed up with 17 points, Gooden added 14 points and 14 boards and Sasha Pavlovic went for a playoff career-high 15 points in the 81-77 victory.

Would the eight days off between games lead to a lot of rust?

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