Escape act: LeBron, Cavs edge Pacers 109-108 in Game 1


CLEVELAND (AP) — Their regular-season issues followed the Cavaliers into the playoffs. They didn't win their postseason opener as much as survive it.

The champions remain puzzling.

LeBron James scored 32 points and Cleveland, looking to flip a switch after a shaky-and-streaky regular season, began the postseason by escaping with a 109-108 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

C.J. Miles could have won it for Indiana, but a player whom Cleveland's players and coaches call a "Cavs killer," missed a 14-foot jumper just before the horn.

Following the game, Miles sat silently at his locker in full uniform for 30 minutes before Larry Bird, the team's president of basketball operations, came in and patted him on the shoulder.

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives past Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner (33) in the first half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives past Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner (33) in the first half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(The Associated Press)

James refused to acknowledge how different things would be if Miles' shot had dropped.

"He missed," James said. "We won."

Playing in his 200th playoff game, James added 13 assists and six rebounds while winning his 18th consecutive first-round game.

However, it was anything but easy as the Cavs, who had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, had to withstand a strong comeback by the Pacers.

Indiana Pacers' Jeff Teague, left, reaches in as Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving drives to the basket in the second half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Indiana Pacers' Jeff Teague, left, reaches in as Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving drives to the basket in the second half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(The Associated Press)

After a foul, Indiana inbounded with 10 seconds left and tried to run a play for star Paul George. But James came over to help J.R. Smith and double-teamed George, who was forced to pass to Miles. His jumper was on line, but short and the Cavs avoided a disastrous loss.

George was adamant that he should have gotten the ball back.

"I talked to C.J. about it," George said. "In situations like that, I gotta get the last shot. C.J. took it upon himself. I'm confident with all of my guys taking shots. That's not the issue. In that situation, I need the ball."

Miles didn't make any excuses.

Indiana Pacers' Paul George (13) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) in the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 109-108. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Indiana Pacers' Paul George (13) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) in the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 109-108. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)