CLEVELAND, Ohio — Iman Shumpert experienced a first in his six-year NBA career on Saturday.
He didn’t play at all in the Cavs’ 109-108 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series, even though he was healthy and in uniform.
DNP — Coach’s Decision.
“Well, you know the playoffs are just a game where everybody has to stay ready,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “Tonight I didn’t get Shump in there, but (Richard Jefferson) came in early and played well. We got him in early for Kevin and just kind of flow of the game and rotations, it didn’t happen.
“But he has to stay ready and everyone has to stay ready and we’ll just see what happens.”
After watching his teammates grind out Saturday’s win, Shumpert put himself through an extra workout, still in uniform.
Shumpert, 26, averaged 7.5 points this season and shot a career-best .411 from the field. He started 31 games and also opened the year as the Cavs’ back-up point guard. He had a poor stretch of play from the end of March through game no. 80, including April 9th against the Hawks when the Cavs were outscored by 22 points during his 18 minutes on the court.
But Jefferson, 36, was struggling entering the playoffs also. In fact, when he scored his first basket in the regular-season finale Wednesday he broke a personal scoreless streak of about 40 minutes.
Lue said entering the playoffs that he would maintain his usual rotation, which in theory should mean that Shumpert gets court time. But the rotation dropped from 10 players to nine, with Shumpert the odd man out.
The bench was helped by Tristan Thompson’s return to the starting lineup, which moved Channing Frye to the second unit. He contributed 11 points with three 3-pointers in 16 minutes.
But Kyle Korver, the NBA’s top 3-point shooter during the regular season, was limited to a single shot (he made it, a 2-pointer) in 15 minutes.
Jefferson and Deron Williams each contributed five points. Those four — Jefferson, Frye, Williams, and Korver — opened the second quarter with LeBron James, who scored 32 points in 43 minutes.
Indiana’s best bench scorer was Lance Stephenson, who scored eight of his 16 in the final quarter, when he played all 10 minutes and the Pacers came all the way back from a 10-point deficit.
“We went to a bigger lineup at the guard position with Lance playing the point,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We were just trying to keep them in front of us and I think that worked. They had to shoot contested 2s. LeBron was able to get into the paint and score on some of those occasions, but it allowed us to get back into this game and eventually have an opportunity to win.”