The Cleveland Cavaliers regained control of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday with a 116-78 rout of the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. The Cavs will now have a chance to close out the series in Toronto on Friday.
Kevin Love (25 points, 8-10 FG) had a solid bounce-back game after underwhelming during the Cavs’ two away losses this week. LeBron James (23 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds) and Kyrie Irving (23 points, 3 steals) did just about enough to ensure the Raptors trailed from start to finish. |Final Box Score|
The Cavs dominated the game right off the bat, taking a 37-19 first quarter lead followed by a 65-34 first half lead. Though the Raptors showed signs of a fightback in the third quarter, the deficit proved too much to overcome.
After the win, James said his team was fully capable of closing out the series on Friday. “We ought to be able to transfer that on Friday. Playing in that beast of an arena that we’re going to we got to be composed, we got to be tough and we got to be sharp.”
Cavs shut down Lowry, DeRozan
After back-to-back losses in Canada, the Cavs entered the game with a mission to shut down Toronto’s backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. With JR Smith, James and Shumpert playing lockdown defense, the Raptors starts were kept to 13 and 14 points respectively. In fact, none of the other Raptors players were allowed to score in double digits owing to Cleveland’s tenacious defense.
Led by Tristan Thompson, the Cavs played with a lot more intent on the glass, keeping rebounding machine Bismack Biyombo to just four rebounds from 21 minutes. Biyombo had 40 rebounds and 7 blocks during Toronto’s wins in Games 3 and 4. Biyombo shared minutes with regular starter Jonas Valanciunas, who returned after missing eight games with an ankle injury.
Prior to the game, LeBron James told the media that his team had no reason to panic despite losing the previous two games. “Just a sense of calmness (in the dressing room),” James said of his mindset before the game. “That’s all. Just a very calm moment for myself, personally. I relish this opportunity to be a part of the postseason once again, to be 2-2 on my home floor, so, a sense of calmness.”
James and the Cavs proved why they’re worthy of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and likely to reach their second consecutive NBA Finals.