The Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers both picked up important road wins in Game 1 of their respective Conference semi-finals on Monday night.
The Clippers were able to deal with the absence of Chris Paul with a team effort, although Blake Griffin played a starring role with a triple-double of 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in yet another dominant performance.
Paul was missing after straining his left hamstring in the Game 7 decider against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, but Jamal Crawford (21 points) and Matt Barnes (20 points) helped to cover the loss.
It was a disappointing start to the series for the Houston Rockets though who had 22 points from Dwight Howard along with James Harden adding 20, but it wasn’t enough to protect home court and get off to a positive start.
Meanwhile, the same could be said for the Cleveland Cavaliers who fell to a home defeat to the Chicago Bulls in what looks set to be a fantastic series.
Derrick Rose had 25 points as he looked like the league MVP he was before the knee injuries, while Pau Gasol added 21 with the visitors leading from start to finish.
Jimmy Butler also played a key role in the win both on the offensive end with 20 points which included a clutch shot with 30 seconds remaining to see off their rivals, while he also played a huge role in limiting LeBron James to 19 points and 15 rebounds as Kyrie Irving led the charge for the hosts with 30 points.
Chicago Bulls 99-92 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Clippers 117-101 Houston Rockets