Most people thought that game five between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors would be hotly contested after the Raptors took games three and four. So much for that. The Cavaliers throttled the Raptors 116-78.
After a very pedestrian series, Kevin Love erupted for 12 points in the first quarter while shooting 4-of-4 from the field. Love was extremely engaged on offence and didn’t settle for long jumpers in this game.
He drove the ball to the basket and drew contact numerous times. These drives showed that Love was not intimidated by his experiences with Bismack Biyombo in game four.
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Speaking post-game, the 27-year-old talked about the different feel of this game when compared to the previous games in Toronto. He said: “I think it was everybody locking in at home. We let the game get away from us in Toronto, but they played well there.”
One could probably say that the game got away from the Raptors in game five. Tristan Thompson was thoroughly outplayed by Biyombo in game four but responded with 10 boards in this one. He even had two offensive rebounds in the first two minutes of regulation.
The effort was contagious for Cleveland and their scorers fed off the intensity in the building from tip-off. The Cavs hung 37 points on the Raptors in the first frame. The offensive explosion, led by Love, looked more like the dominant team that fans saw during the 10-game win streak to start the postseason.
Reserve forward Richard Jefferson was one of the players that gained a major boost from the Cavs’ increase in activity. He notched 11 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of action. The veteran even had a couple of highlight plays over the course of the game - including an alley-oop dunk off a LeBron James pass.
Fans on social media joked that they hadn’t seen this Jefferson in a decade. He was known for his powerful finishes in his days with the New Jersey Nets alongside Jason Kidd.
There was a lot of quiet unease in the way that the Cavaliers' were being viewed going into this game. LeBron knew that they were going to have to get back to their old habits to take command of this series. The King ended his night with 23 points, eight assists, and six rebounds.
“We had to get back to our staple. We had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That was the most satisfying thing,” he said.
Now the task is to get this effort to travel from Cleveland to Toronto to wrap up this series and get back to the NBA Finals.
But, the Cavs know that the road has not been kind to them in this encounter.
“We are going to have a tough fight on our hands going back to their place," Love said. "We have to do our best to try and close it out like we did tonight.”
The Wine and Gold are going to have to fight to get back to the Finals in game six but, if they keep their foot on the throttle like they did in this game, they can stand toe to toe with anybody.