The Cleveland Cavaliers shook off some rust, and then the Atlanta Hawks.
Newly crowned MVP LeBron James scored 34 points and the well-rested Cavs, who waited nine days between playoff games after a first-round sweep, pulled away in the second half for a 99-72 win over the Atlanta Hawks in their Eastern Conference semifinal opener Tuesday at Cleveland.
Showing why he was voted the league's most valuable player in a landslide, James also had 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals as the top-seeded Cavaliers won their fifth straight lopsided game in a postseason that has so far mirrored the best regular season in franchise history.
Mo Williams scored 21 points for Cleveland, which has won each of its five games by double figures.
"It was unbelievable how sharp we were," James said. "We just picked up where we left off."
With the Cavaliers up by 21, James was pulled with 4:29 left -- extra down time before Game 2 on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers are 42-2.
Josh Smith scored 22 points and Mike Bibby 19 for the Hawks, who needed seven games to get past Miami and are playing in the second round for the first time in 10 years.
James was presented with his MVP trophy before the game by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Denver 117, Dallas 105 -- The visiting Mavericks toughened up and clamped down, and it still wasn't enough to beat the high-flying Nuggets.
Carmelo Anthony led another fourth-quarter blitz by the Nuggets, who overcame Dirk Nowitzki's 35 points and more hustle and muscle from the Mavericks for a victory in Denver that gave them a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.
Anthony scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, when Denver outscored the Mavericks, 31-22, to break open a tight game.
Nene also scored 25, J.R. Smith had 21 points off the bench and Chauncey Billups scored 18 for the Nuggets, who won for the 15th straight time at the Pepsi Center, where they haven't lost since March 11.