NEW YORK • Forget LeBron James making his eighth consecutive trip to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals. He might have trouble just getting out of the opening round of the play-offs after a rude awakening on Sunday.
Victor Oladipo scored a game-high 32 points to power the Indiana Pacers over the hosts Cleveland Cavaliers 98-80 in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round play-off series.
"Stay calm, stay composed, play the game I have all year long," Oladipo said of the key to his overwhelming day. "This was a great team win."
The rout snapped James' 21-game win streak in the first round dating back to May 2012 when the New York Knicks beat his Miami Heat in the Game 4.
The 14-time All Star, seeking his fourth championship title, had also never before lost Game 1 of a first-round series.
Despite the Pacers drawing first blood, James said the setback was a motivation for him to step up his game.
First-round play-off games LeBron James won before Cleveland's opening defeat by Indiana.
"I'm down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 1-3 in the (2016) Finals," he said, referring to Cleveland's historic 4-3 comeback victory over the Golden State Warriors. "So I'm the last guy to ask about what I'm gonna be like the next couple days."
The Pacers jumped ahead 33-14 after the first quarter and led by as many as 23 points in holding off the Cavaliers, who came no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
"You can't ease into the play-offs," said Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. "I thought (Indiana) came in and they attacked us."
James had a triple-double - 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
The rest of Cleveland's starters managed only 25 points. Kevin Love collected 17 rebounds but contributed only nine points.
J.R. Smith poured in 15 points off the Cavaliers' bench while Myles Turner had 16 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 15 for Indiana.
The Cavaliers had their lowest-scoring first period of the season and only five baskets with six turnovers in the opening quarter, drawing boos from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd as they walked off at half-time trailing 38-59.
James admitted the revamped Cavaliers were surprised by the Pacers' explosive offence, but they would chalk it up as a lesson learnt ahead of Game 2 in Cleveland on Wednesday.
"The intensity," he said when asked where the Cavaliers faltered.
"How much different a regular-season game is compared to a post-season game. It happens that fast.
"You always hear people say in the regular season, sometimes it's a 'play-off-type atmosphere'.
"You can't simulate that, can't simulate that speed, 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, they'll be a lot better, especially in Game 2.
"So we take it as everybody has to dig deep and not lose two of them on our home floor."