The Cleveland Cavaliers shot the lights out Wednesday, hitting 57% from the floor, including 48% from downtown, as they stuffed the Raptors in their locker, 116-78, to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kevin Love awoke from his two-game slumber to throw a smackdown on the Raptors in the first quarter, scoring 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting, drawing 4 fouls and blocking 2 shots, as the Cavs rode an 11-point run to jump out 37-19 by the end of the first quarter. It would only get worse for the Raptors.
Toronto would score just 15 points in the second quarter, getting off just 12 shots, and making 4, while hitting on just 7 of 13 from the line, as Cleveland’s defense forced 5 turnovers and pulled down 12 rebounds. Mercifully, the Cavs shooting cooled to the point where they made just 7 of 15. Small favors…
Coming out of the half up 65-34, the Cavs saw their chance to fire a kill shot and they took it. The Raptors opened things up inauspiciously enough as DeMar DeRozan immediately made a bad pass that was intercepted by LeBron James, who promptly turned it into 2 points. In what has to be considered their best quarter for the game, the Raptors would be outscored 35-26, and DeRozan would tie Kyle Lowry as the team’s leading scorer with 7 points, despite not making a field goal.
Yes, Toronto outpaced Cleveland 18-16 in the final frame, but the game had long been over by then.
The Cavs starting five was so on-point Wednesday that they alone outscored the Raptors 87-78; had more steals 11-9; more blocks 5-3; and tied them for rebounds at 27-27. And the Raptors were so feckless on offense that DeRozan led the team in scoring with just 14, thanks mainly to hitting on 10 of 12 free throws.
James posted a 23-6-8, and Kyrie Irving went 23-3-3, but it was Love who led all scorers with 25 on 8-of-10 shooting, which has to come as a huge relief to LBJ and crew. Love was useless in Games 3 & 4, hitting on just 5 of 23 for for 13 points. His absence was a huge factor in last year’s finals, but the Cavs would be almost better off without him as opposed to pointlessly dragging his corpse up and down the floor. Let’s hope neither scenario comes to pass.