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First Quarter Proves Crucial in Cavs Win

Cleveland– After an eight day layoff, it would have been easy for the Cavaliers to come out slow in the opening game of their second round series against the Toronto Raptors.

That’s what makes their 30-point first quarter all the more impressive.

The Cavs topped the Raptors 116-105, and they have their fast-paced opening minutes to thank.

After Toronto’s Kyle Lowry hit a three to open the night, the Cavs went on a 10-0 run in the next two minutes that was capped by this alley-oop off the backboard from Kyrie Irving to LeBron James:

While the Raptors regained their composure after a timeout, there was no stopping the Cavs offensively. When all was said and done, they had outscored Toronto 30-18 in the first 12 minutes.

In that time span, Irving had already notched 12 points and three assists, while James and Kevin Love added six points each. DeMar DeRozan was the leading scorer for Toronto in the opening quarter with six points.

Simple math shows how important it was for the Cavs to have that high-octane first quarter (especially since their final margin of victory was 11); but the mental effect the opening minutes had was just as important as the effect on the box score.

Undoubtedly, the Cavs quick start would not have happened without the work they put in during practice the last week. As James mentioned during his post-game press conference, the Cavs got more practices in during the last seven days than they did the entire month of March.

Head coach Tyronn Lue stressed that last year was basically a “blue print” for how the Cavaliers would handle having a week or more off, after they swept the first two rounds of the playoffs in 2016.

“I pretty much tried to stay the course of what we did last year,” Lue said.

“We had a few conditioning days where we had conditioning shooting. Then we had conditioning where we had guys on the versa climber and on the bikes. And guys said it was harder than playing in the games, it’s harder than training camp, some of the things we did.”

James also said that the Cavs had great energy coming into the game, and as a result, they were able to get what they wanted to on both ends of the floor early on.

“That was the mystery coming into the game, how we would come out.  Obviously you prepare, you want to come out and play well, but you never know after an eight day layoff,” James said.

“A 30-point quarter after an eight day layoff is a really good quarter, and we held them to 18 as well. So it was a really good start for us.”

Irving echoed James in saying that the energy their entire team played with shaped the course of the game. Arguably, this also allowed Irving to record 10 assists during the game, a new playoff career high for him.

“We wanted to come out with a conscious effort to move the basketball, as well as get out in transition, keep the pace up, make them play our game, and then go from there,” Irving said.

While the Cavs credited their hot start to their work during the last week, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said that their extra rest and prep time was not an excuse for how slow his team came out.

“It wasn’t like we had just got done playing, we had a couple days rest,” Casey said.

“We’ve got to switch gears and go from the Milwaukee series to this series. But I thought they were the quicker team tonight, and you have to match that to start the game.”

The Cavs and Raptors are back in action for game two from The Q on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Ashley is a former basketball player who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians and high school sports for NEO Sports Insiders. She also covers the Cavs for SB Nation's Fear The Sword. Ashley is a 2015 graduate of John Carroll University and previously worked in political journalism. You can follow her on Twitter @AshleyBastock42

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