Kyrie Irving scored 30 points in his playoff debut, LeBron James added 20 in his first postseason game with Cleveland in five years and the Cavaliers opened a run toward an NBA title with a 113-100 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday in Cleveland.
Irving made five 3-pointers and Kevin Love, another postseason rookie, added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
It was Cleveland's first home playoff game since May 11, 2010, when the Celtics won Game 5 and James left the floor to some boos from Cavaliers fans. He departed for Miami two months later, but he's home now, all is forgiven and Cleveland is aiming to end a championship drought dating to 1964.
Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points to lead the seventh-seeded Celtics. They will try to even the best-of-seven series in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
The Cavs built a 20-point lead in the third quarter, let the Celtics get as close as six and then finished the quarter with a 9-0 run — capped by a three-pointer by James Jones — to take a 15-point lead into the fourth.
Boston climbed to within 10 in the final 12 minutes, but Love made a crucial 3-pointer with 3:32 left to slow Boston.
James was confident Irving and Love would be up for the playoffs, but added “you never know,” perhaps the superstar's way of motivating his teammates. They were ready as Cleveland's “Big 3” combined for 69 points.
at Atlanta 99, Brooklyn 92: Kyle Korver scored 21 points, making five three-pointers, and the top-seeded Hawks held off the Nets in an Eastern Conference series opener.
The Hawks led nearly the entire game and pushed the margin as high as 16 points, but the Nets kept coming back.
Finally, Jeff Teague dropped in a floater coming off the left wing, giving Atlanta a 95-89 lead. Joe Johnson missed a three-pointer from the corner for Brooklyn, and Teague made a pair of free throws with just under a minute remaining to essentially seal it.
Teague and DeMarre Carroll scored 17 points apiece.
Eighth-seeded Brooklyn finished 22 games behind the Hawks and slipped into the playoffs on the final day. But, with Johnson and Brook Lopez each scoring 17 points, they didn't look overmatched by a team that won the season series 4-0 and earned a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1994.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Atlanta.