The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors four games to zero to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs were led by several stellar performances from their leader, LeBron James, who completely shut down the Raptors.
Last season, the same thing happened as the Cavs swept the Raptors four to zero in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. This season, however, the Cavs did not have their All Star point guard in Kyrie Irving, yet the Raptors were still no match for Cleveland.
Freshman Aayush Gariwala says, “It is amazing how the Cavs were able to defeat Toronto with such ease this season. The Raptors are a much better team this season, compared to the last, and had the best record in the East. Even with their stellar season, they were no match for LeBron, who has proved his dominance in the league once again.”
James stepped up and put up stellar numbers in this series, averaging 34 points, 11.3 assists, and 8.3 rebounds over the four games. He was a powerhouse that the Raptors did not have an answer for. The Raptor’s All-Star player DeMar DeRozan played unlike himself, only averaging 16.8 points per game over the series, about six points less than his regular season average.
In game one at the Air Canada Centre, it looked like Cleveland had finally met their match. The Raptors outscored the Cavs by 14 points in the first quarter, and Cleveland did not lead all game. Although they were down, the Cavs rallied back and in the fourth quarter, tied the game 105-105 to force the game into overtime. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors shot five for 24, which allowed the Cavs to come back.
In overtime, Kyle Korver of the Cavaliers, who finished with 19 points, hit an early three-pointer to give Cleveland their first lead of the whole game. With less than a minute to go, Cleveland was up 113-112 and Toronto had the ball. The Raptors had four opportunities to score, but missed all of them. When the clock expired, Cleveland stole game one from the Raptors, who were at home.
James led the Cavs and got a triple-double, scoring 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. J.R. Smith came through and scored 20 points for Cleveland. On the Raptors side, Jonas Valanciunas scored 21 points and grabbed 21 rebounds. DeRozan led his team in scoring with 22 points on 50 percent shooting.
Game two returned to the Raptors’ home court. The game remained close until the third quarter where the Cavaliers started to pull away. The Cavs outscored the Raptors by 20 points in the second half and shot a great 60 percent throughout the game. In the end, the Cavaliers won the game 128-110.
James led the Cavs in scoring and assists, with a game-high 43 points and 14 assists. He was just two rebounds away from another triple-double, grabbing eight boards. Kevin Love of Cleveland also had a double-double with 31 points and 11 rebounds. DeRozan had 24 points and Kyle Lowry added 21 points for Toronto.
As the series shifted to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, the Cavs were looking to put this series away. At first, game three looked like an easy win for Cleveland, outscoring Toronto by 15 points in the first half. Although things were looking up for the Cavaliers, the Raptors had a stellar fourth quarter, dropping 38 points.
The Raptors’ rookie, OG Anunoby, hit a three late in the fourth quarter to complete the 17 point comeback. The score was tied 103-103 and it was Cleveland’s ball. With eight seconds left on the clock, James dribbled the ball up the court and took a one-handed shot on the left side. As time expired, the ball banked off the glass and went in, destroying Toronto’s hopes for a title. The final score was 105-103 with the Cavs up.
As usual, James had a stellar night for the Cavs, completely filling up the box score. He had 38 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and a block. Love got another double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Korver was extremely efficient for the Cavs, adding 18 points on 75 percent shooting.
For the Raptors, Lowry dropped 27 points and shot 69 percent from the field. On the other hand, DeRozan had a horrible night, scoring only eight points and shooting 25 percent.
With the Raptors down zero games to three in the series and the momentum in Cleveland’s favor, it looked like the Cavaliers were going to sweep them. All throughout game four, Toronto could not do anything to stop James and the Cavs. Cleveland outscored Toronto in every quarter and won by a margin of 35 points. Cleveland shot 60 percent from the field while Toronto only shot an okay 46 percent throughout the game. The final score was 93-128 with the Cavs in the lead.
The Raptors felt defeated the entire game and could not even put up a fight. DeRozan and Lowry scored only a combined 18 points, and DeRozan got ejected in the third quarter for a flagrant foul. Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points in 16 minutes, but it was not nearly enough to defeat Cleveland. James added 29 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists for the Cavs. All of Cleveland’s starters finished in double digits in scoring to lead Cleveland pass the Raptors.
Freshman James Marcelo says, “It was great to see other players step up in this series for the Cavaliers. LeBron got the help he needed in consistent performances from Kevin Love and Kyle Korver. If they want to win the championship, LeBron’s teammates have to continue supporting their leader and not force him to carry the team.”
Cleveland’s sweep over the Raptors leads them to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth consecutive season. James and the Cavaliers played the Boston Celtics on Sunday, May 13, losing 83-108. Game 2 is on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Do you think the Cleveland Cavaliers will go all the way this season and win the championship? Why or why not?