Tuesday, May 17, 2016
May 17, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) slam dunks during the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game one of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 115-84. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – LeBron James made his first nine shots and scored 24 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers hammered the Toronto Raptors 115-84 on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to extend their perfect start to this postseason.
Kyrie Irving scored 27 points and Kevin Love had 14 points and four rebounds, his first game in this postseason without a double-double.
The Cavs became the first team to win their first nine postseason games since the 2012 San Antonio Spurs, who won their first 10 before losing four straight to Oklahoma City.
The victory over Toronto was their most lopsided of this postseason in what has become a dominant run through the East.
DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points for the Raptors, but only six after the first quarter.
Fellow All Star Kyle Lowry, who scored a career-high 43 against the Cavs in a February victory at Air Canada Centre, scored eight on 4 of 14 shooting on Tuesday.
After sweeping through the first two rounds of the playoffs by setting records with their 3-point shooting, the Cavs instead attacked the heart of the Raptors’ defense.
Each of James’ first nine baskets came near the restricted area on a night the Cavs shot 55 percent primarily by pounding the interior of the Raptors’ defense for 56 points in the paint.
They made just seven 3-pointers after averaging nearly 17 per game through the first two rounds.
The Raptors scored the game’s first seven points, although the Cavs had the lead within about seven minutes. They extended it to double figures within the first two minutes of the second quarter and rolled the rest of the way.
They led by as many as 35 in the fourth quarter.
The sweeps in each of the first two rounds meant the Cavs played just eight games in the last 33 days, while the Raptors were stretched to seven games in each of their first two series.
All that time off has done little to disrupt Cleveland’s rhythm however.
They beat the Atlanta Hawks by double figures in each of the first three games following an eight-day layoff and nine days between games certainly did not bother them on Tuesday.
The Raptors have now lost the first game in each of their three series.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)