Cleveland Cavaliers 115
Toronto Raptors 94
Kyrie Irving struggled. Kevin Love had six points after the first quarter. The Cleveland Cavaliers won by 21 points on the road, taking the Eastern Conference semifinals to a 3-0 margin, pushing the Toronto Raptors one game away from elimination. While the gap was not 20-plus points until late in the second half, and Cavalier fans looked for every reason to complain on Twitter1, the Cavaliers’ human safety net of LeBron James collaborated with Kyle Korver (14 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four threes) and the rest of the Cavaliers bench to set the Cavs up for their second closeout game in the last two weeks.
The starters in this one were in lockstep, both five-man units scoring 85 points.The Cavaliers were once again led by James who scored 35 points on 9-of-16 shooting while the Raptors were led by DeMar Derozan who had easily his best game of the series, dropping 37 of his own. The difference game down to the Cavs reserves and the Raptors’ bizarre inability to make threes at any point in the contest. The Cavs shot 51 percent from the field, hitting 13 of 23 threes while Toronto was 2-of-18 from three, hitting just 44 percent of their attempts.
“Our bench needs to come in and give us a boost, when DeMar and Jonas [Valanciunas] needed a blow, but they couldn’t get started,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. “The three ball hurt us. I thought we did an excellent job of moving the ball and finding the right person, but for whatever reason, it’s escaping us right now.”
In a moment of the game where it appeared the Raptors were going to attempt to foul their way back into the game, fouling James and Cavs center Tristan Thompson, the Cavs clapped back by hitting 24 of their 28 attempts from the line.
Kyrie Irving struggled all around in this one, shooting just 7-of-21 from the floor and not playing in the fourth quarter, but it was another game where one of the team’s stars was effectively allowed to have an off night as others picked him up. J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson combined for 18 points on 12 shots, Channing Frye hit his lone shot (a three-pointer, natch), and Deron Williams stepped up for four points and two assists in his 16 minutes off the bench.
“We can play nine guys a night, 10 guys a night,” said Irving following the game. “A lot more fell on me, ‘Bron and Kev last year. This year, we have guys stepping up and making plays on both ends of the floor. When they’re able to extend the lead and myself and Kev don’t have to play the fourth, that’s awesome.”
8 — Kevin Love’s point total in the game’s first 5:30. The Cavs were riding love early and often, allowing the power forward to establish a post presence for the team within the game’s first few minutes. It would have been 10 if not for a bounce pass tipping off of Love’s fingers and deflecting out of bounds at the games six-minute mark. The rest of the Cavs’ starting five had five points over this time frame. He took just one shot in the second quarter.
24-12 — How the Toronto Raptors finished off second quarter. After starting the game off 0-for-3, DeMar DeRozan put up 21 points in the first half. The Cavaliers were up 37-28 at one point, but went into halftime down 52-49 after an ill-timed cold streak.
66-42 — The point differential over the third and fourth quarters that were the product of quality ball movement and execution on both ends of the floor.
12 — The number of threes missed by Toronto before their first conversion, taking place near the end of the third quarter.
1 — The number of shots Toronto made in the fourth quarter through their first 12 field goal attempts. Over the same span, Cleveland was 5-of-5. When it was all said and done, the Cavs shot 79 percent from the floor in the game’s final quarter while Toronto shot just 30 percent.
1-of-15 — The conversion rate of Toronto’s Cory Joseph and Norman Powell on uncontested field goals. It would appear Casey was right.
81 — The number of points the Cleveland Cavaliers have from three-point land greater than the Toronto Raptors. When asked about it postgame, Tyronn Lue stated “That’s what we do. We shoot threes… As far as the makeup of their team, I’m not sure.”
129 — Wins by LeBron James led teams in the postseason when he has a positive plus-minus rating as compared to just eight losses. James’ plus-minus in this one was +20. Not too bad. Through seven games in this post season, he’s averaging 34.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists thus far, shooting 57 percent from the floor and 49 percent on three-pointers. Also not too bad.2
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) May 6, 2017
Entirely too many — Complaints throughout the game from Cavs fans on Twitter. Tweeting within a game is ephemeral enough. Complaining about a nine-point lead late in the first half seems asinine. If there is anything worse than overreacting to a game in the middle of the regular season, it’s overreacting to a play or sequence in the middle of the second quarter.
Are we doing that thing where we're upset because the Cavs aren't winning by enough?
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) May 5, 2017
1 — The number of double-digit games Kyle Korver has had in the postseason this year. Though he has been shooting well, the team just hasn’t relied much on his as the Pacers did everything they could to not let him take over a game and LeBron James has had help elsewhere (i.e. Channing Frye in Game 2) to get the job done. Korver hit two threes in the final minute of the third and opened the fourth with another one. Not only did he have 14 points off the bench on Friday night, but 100 percent of his makes were assisted.
“I thought we had a really good stretch there on both ends of the court,” said Kover following the game. “We were able to get out and run. When we can do that, we’re really hard to guard. I got a few clean looks, and knocked them down… I thought we played with a ton of energy, I thought our defense was really solid, and it was a really balanced effort.”
Shout out to @352Andrew for the title inspiration.