#2 Toronto Raptors vs. #1 Cleveland Cavaliers, CLE leads series 1-0 (8:30pm ET Thursday, ESPN)
The Cleveland Cavaliers buried the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, 115-84, the largest margin of victory in the team’s playoff history. They’ve now won all nine of their games this postseason, transitioning from a team hounded by doubts all throughout the regular season into an apparent juggernaut.
Toronto jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks in large part to a pair of steals by DeMarre Carroll, one each off of LeBron James and Tristan Thompson, and they kept the lead for almost 7 minutes, before a pair of Kevin Love free throws tipped the first of 9 lead changes in the quarter, before Cleveland closed out the frame with a 6-point run to make it 33-28.
Cleveland then opened the 2nd with a 9-point run, including 6 points in a row from Matthew Dellavedova, that grew the lead to 14, and the Cavs were off and running. After having made 4 of 4 in the 1st, James continued his hot shooting, making 3 of 3 in the 2nd, as the Raptors hit just 6 of 19, leading to just 16 points in the quarter, and a 66-44 deficit at the half.
Despite scoring the first 7 points of the second half, the Raptors never got close. By the time LeBron hoisted his first miss from the floor, it was 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter, and the Cavs were up 75-53. In garbage time, aka the 4th quarter, Richard Jefferson came roaring off the bench for Cleveland to score 8 points and grab 8 rebounds to hold the Raptors at bay.
Tuesday’s opening game couldn’t have gone a lot better for the Cavs, who built a big enough lead in the first half that it allowed coach Tyronn Lue to rest his starters – not only did Cleveland get a chance knock off 8 days’ worth of rust, but they didn’t have to break a sweat in a complete dismantling of the Raptors, who were outshot 55%-42%, and outrebounded 45-23.
James hit on 11 of 13 for 24 points, and Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 27 on 11-of-17 shooting. Toronto’s usually dynamic duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who in each of their previous three games combined for more than 50 points, could only muster 26 on 13-of-31 shooting, and had just 10 assists vs. 7 turnovers.