For the first time all season, the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to win a game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and in doing so secured a return trip to the NBA Finals, which will be a mind-boggling six straight Finals appearances for LeBron James.
In a continuation of their Game 5 dominance, the Cavs were able to virtually manhandle the Raptors again on Friday night behind LeBron, who had his hand-prints all over this contest as he put up 33 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks on 13-of-22 from the field, including 3-of-6 from downtown.
But it wasn’t just LeBron. It marked the sixth time this postseason that the Cavs’ Big 3 of LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all had 20-plus points. This iteration of the Cavs is undefeated so far when they’re able to put up those numbers. Irving poured 30 points and nine assists, while Love added 20 points and 12 rebounds.
It was a chippy, physical game early in the first half as Bismack Biyombo was hit with a flagrant foul for elbowing Love in the face. Had the Raptors forced a Game 7, Biyombo would’ve been suspended for accruing too many flagrant foul points this postseason. Soon after, Jonas Valanciunas got tangled up with Richard Jefferson, which resulted in double-technicals. But cooler heads would ultimately prevail.
Toronto struggled from behind the arc all night, going 2-of-11 in the first half and finishing at just 32 percent overall. The Cavs, on the other hand, were on fire from three-point land to start the game, connecting on 10 of their first 15 attempts, led by LeBron, who was 3-of-4 from distance. Each of the Cavs’ Big 3 – as well as J.R. Smith (15 points) – shot 50 percent or better from long-range.
Cleveland led by as many as 21 in the second half, but Lowry scored 14 of his game-high 35 points in the third quarter to a lead a Raptors charge that would cut the deficit to 13 going into the final frame, including goading Tristan Thompson into fouling him on a three-point attempt with less than a second remaining in the period. Lowry would sink all three free throws.
The Raptors would cut it to 10 early in the fourth, which prompted Tyronn Lue to bring LeBron back in the game after just 37 seconds of rest. But that was as close as it would get, and the Raptors saw a disappointing end to their best season in franchise history. Toronto’s All-Star duo played well as DeMar DeRozan chipped in 20 points on 9-of-18 shooting, but they didn’t get much help from their supporting cast as they were the only two players in double figures.
The Cavs now await the winner of the Thunder-Warriors series out West, which resumes with Game 6 on Saturday in OKC at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.