They say a series doesn’t really begin until a team loses a game on its home floor. For the Cavaliers and Magic – the Eastern Conference Finals have begun. The Cavaliers, who had been unscathed by adversity through the first two rounds of the 2009 postseason, finally got a taste of it on Wednesday night – blowing a 15-point halftime lead and dropping a home heartbreaker to Orlando in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Wednesday’s loss spoiled a herculean effort by LeBron – who eclipsed his previous playoff high with 49 points, going 20-for-30 from the floor with a team-high eight assist, six boards, three blocked shots and a pair of steals. “Nobody said it was going to be easy,” reasoned James. “It’s one game, and if we just look at it and just one game and we just move on to the next game, then we’ll be fine.” LeBron now has 26 career postseason games of 30 or more points and the Cavaliers are 19-7 in those contests. He’s cracked the 40-point mark six times (4-2) in the playoffs. On Wednesday night, James set team records for points in a half (26), points in a game (49), field goals made (20).
Dwight Howard did his best Shaquille O’Neal impression one minute into the first quarter when he followed a Courtney Lee miss with a two-handed dunk that brought down the shot-clock stanchion above the basket. The destruction caused a nine-minute delay while two portable shot clocks were rolled out to opposite baselines for the remainder of the first half. “(Van Gundy) told us at halftime, ?we are all witnesses,'” said Dwight Howard. “That’s what he said to us, and it really motivated us when said y’all playing like y’all witnesses. He has a great way of motivating all of us. And that right there, you know, brought some fire out of us.” The Cavaliers came into Wednesday’s game with the lowest scoring bench in the 2009 playoffs and, unfortunately, they didn’t get much on Wednesday night, either. Joe Smith notched five points on 2-for-3 shooting, but he was the only reserve to crack the scoring column.
Photos Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE via Getty Images. Photos by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images, Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images, Gregory Shamus/Getty Images, Elsa/Getty Images.