Cavaliers complete sweep of Raptors with 128-93 blow out win
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
The Cleveland Cavaliers had no intention of going back to Toronto for a Game 5 after Monday night’s Game 4 in Cleveland. Mission accomplished.
With a 128-93 victory over the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Raptors in four games to advance to their fourth straight conference finals. The sweep marked the second straight season the Cavs ousted Toronto in four straight games, and the Raptors became the first No. 1 seed in 49 years to get swept before the conference finals.
“When we’re getting stops, when we get out in transition, able to play with pace, I think we’re really good,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “We still gotta continue getting better, but I like where we’re at right now.”
Entering the series, the Raptors were the favored team, largely because they were perceived as the best team in the East and the Cavs had just gone through a grueling seven-game series against the Indiana Pacers. None of that mattered, as the Cavs emphatically showed who the better team was.
In Game 4, the Cavs led 30-26 after the first quarter but quickly ran away with the game before halftime. Cavs shooting guard Kyle Korver (16 points) drained a three-pointer that gave the Cavs a 43-40 lead with 6:49 to play until halftime, but Cleveland closed the half with a 20-7 run to take a 63-47 lead into intermission. It only got worse for the Raptors from there.
When LeBron James converted a layup with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter, the Cavs had taken a 20-point lead, 73-53. Kevin Love sank a three-pointer less than two minutes later that gave Cleveland an 80-59 lead, and the Cavs blitzed their way to a 100-72 massacre heading into the final frame.
The demoralization only continued in the fourth quarter. With the Cavs leading 110-80, James already on the bench and the deepest of reserves entering the game, The Q arena began playing “God’s Plan” by Toronto native, musician and Raptors ambassador Drake. The crowd sang along, only adding to the Raptors’ woes.
Monday’s victory was the 10th straight for the Cavs over Toronto in the playoffs, a truly staggering display of domination over a single opponent. James finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, while all five Cavaliers reached double-figures in scoring, including Kevin Love’s 23 points and six boards.
“I thought they were a very well-balanced, put together team this year,” James said about the Raptors. “I think they showed all year what they could become and what they are capable of.”
The night couldn’t have gone any worse for the Raptors, especially All-Star DeMar DeRozan. One game after being benched for the entire fourth quarter in Game 3, DeRozan committed a flagrant 2 foul on Jordan Clarkson just before the end of the third quarter with a slap to the Cavs guard’s head as he attempted a layup. DeRozan was ejected from the game and forced to miss his second straight fourth quarter. The ejection also ended his season. Toronto guard Kyle Lowry totaled just five points.
“I thought our guys would come in and compete harder,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “I told them they’re going to try to come out and throw a haymaker and how we respond was going to be important, and for whatever reason we didn’t. That was disappointing.
“But like I told our team, we can’t let this series (define us). We did some good things this year. We had a heckuva season as far as the regular season is concerned, but there’s another level we have to learn to get to and make that commitment to get to as an organization and as a team. There’s a different level and you just saw it tonight.”
With the Cavs completing their semifinal series, they’ll now wait for the winner of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers series..
POSTED 05/07/2018 23:45