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Cleveland Cavaliers stun Raptors 115-84 in Game 1

LORI EWING, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

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Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2) drives on Toronto Raptors’ Cory Joseph (6) during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers made sure Toronto’s introduction to the Eastern Conference finals was not a pleasant one.

James scored 24 points on near perfect shooting, while Kyrie Irving had 27 as the Cavaliers throttled the Raptors 115-84 in Game 1 on Tuesday, Toronto’s first conference finals appearance in franchise history.

James punished the Raptors on 11-for-13 shooting, the four-time NBA MVP looking for most of the night like a man playing against boys.

DeMar DeRozan had 18 points on a solid night, but the rest of the Raptors could do little against a Cavaliers team that thoroughly embarrassed Toronto. Bismack Biyombo had 12 points, while James Johnson finished with 10.

The Raptors hung in with the home team through the opening quarter, but almost as if they’d been toying with Toronto, the Cavaliers then thrust a foot on the throat of the Raptors and held it there until the final, merciful, buzzer.

Cleveland’s 22-point lead in the second quarter became a whopping 28 points by the end of the third, as the Cavs took a 95-67 advantage into the fourth. Raptors coach Dwane Casey waved the virtual white flag with 10 minutes to play, pulling his starters for seldom-used Delon Wright and Jason Thompson.

When Terrence Ross went up for what should have been a spectacular dunk with six minutes left to play, the ball bounced out, an apt metaphor on an ugly night. With three minutes to play, fans erupted into chants of “U-S-A!”

The Cavs outrebounded Toronto 45-23, and clobbered them in the paint 56-36.
Game 2 is Thursday in Cleveland, then the series shifts to the Air Canada Centre for Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday.

The Raptors had a 2-1 edge over the Cavs in the regular-season series. But Cleveland has been red-hot in the post-season, making quick work of Detroit and Atlanta in the first two rounds, and relegating the Raptors to the under-dog role.

The Cavaliers’ two sweeps allowed them a nine-day break, while the battle-wearing Raptors arrived in Cleveland to play just two days after finally knocking off Miami in Game 7 of the conference semifinals. They also needed seven games to dispatch Indiana in the first round.

The Cavs hit 77 threes in their four-game sweep of Atlanta. The Raptors, on the other hand, were second last in defending the three in the regular season.

Quicken Loans Arena was awash in gold, with small pockets of Raptors fans. Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban had a front row seat, as did UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey had wanted his team to come out “guns a-blazing,” and they did with an early 7-0 lead. Still, DeRozan’s 12 points in the first quarter weren’t enough against the Cavs, who led 33-28 going into the second.

The Cavs promptly found another gear and an Iman Shumpert dunk had them up by 19 just five minutes into the frame. Cleveland went into halftime up 66-44. The Raptors’ deficit tied for the worst in their playoff history.

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