The Cleveland Cavaliers regained control in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Toronto Raptors last night as their superstar players really turned up at the Quicken Loans Arena.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the series, the Raptors pegged the first-seeds back to 2-2 after successfully defending homecourt. However, thanks to a combined 71 points from LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs demolished the Raptors 78-116 in game five.
Cleveland opened up a 34-point lead in the first half and managed to push that to 43 in the second to simply overwhelm the visiting Candian franchise. Stingy defence was Cleveland's primary weapon and Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan simply weren't allowed to have the same effect on proceedings that they exhibited in game four.
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The backcourt duo could only muster 27 points between them, whereas Kevin Love - who put up a measley 10 points in game four - dropped 25 all by himself in this affair. The power forward looked like a new man compared to the previous road trip and even contributed a pair of blocks.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey didn't hide from the obvious: this was an absolute spanking at this stage of the season and the Cavaliers had clicked at both ends of the floor. With their ultra-talented personnel, that's simply too much to deal with.
"They kicked our butts, bottom line," Casey said. "That's been all three ballgames [on the road]."
King James had eight assists and six rebounds in 31 minutes before checking out late in the third quarter with the Cavs 37-points clear. The four-time MVP was well on his way to a triple-double and if he had been needed on the court it's almost certain he would have recorded one.
The Cavs grabbed 21 more rebounds than their north of the boarder counterparts and their domination on the glass was a big factor behind the victory. They continuously came out with possession to keep up the relentless pressure and they had twice as many offesive rebounds as the Raptors.
After setting a franchise record in game three, Bismack Biyombo could only get his hands on four rebounds. But, in fairness, the Congolese center only spent just over 20 minutes on the court as the returning Jonas Valanciunas also played a part. Biyombo and Valanciunas are the only teammates with at least 120 rebounds this postseason.
DeRozan is usually a very reliable volume scorer and one of the go-to men for Toronto, but the California-native went 2-of-8 from the field and got 10 of his 14 points from the free-throw line.
Conversely, Tristan Thompson collected 10 rebounds and Irving was 10-of-19 from the field, including one three-point bomb.
Game six takes place on Friday night in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre and it's a must-win game for the home side if they want to saty in the tie.