LeBron & Co. handled the Raptors, 113-87, in Game 6 to advance to their second-straight NBA Finals, cruising through the Eastern Conference Playoffs with a 12-2 record. All three members of the Big Three stepped up, and they now await the winner of the Oklahoma City/Golden State series.
Cleveland came out in the first and got the jump on Toronto, spurred by LeBron James, who could taste his sixth-straight Finals. He erupted for 14 on 5/6 from the floor, including 2/3 from downtown as the Cavs took a 31-25 lead. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith also had an impressive showing, combining for 13, and Kyrie Irving finished off the scoring with four. The Raptors did a great job of distributing the scoring load and featured seven players make up their 25 points. Their leader was DeMar DeRozan, who had six, and Kyle Lowry followed him with five.
Both offenses caught snags in the second quarter, except the Raptors got snagged far worse than their opposition. Toronto missed 15 of their 20 shot attempts — a lot of which were open shots — as they hobbled out to a 16-point quarter. Lowry had a very inefficient seven points, and DeRozan was held to just four in the period. Cleveland wasn’t much better and finished at 45% shooting, due in large because of their superb accuracy from downtown. They banged home five-out-of-six from three, with Channing Frye coming off the bench and knocking down two in less than four minutes of play. James came out and struggled to score in the second and tallied seven points on 3/9 shooting, possibly because he only rested 37 seconds in the first half. At the conclusion of the second quarter, Cleveland led 55-41.
Out of the intermission, Lowry came out and was absolutely possessed. His shooting stroke returned after being gone for two quarters, and he splashed in 18 points on 5/6 shooting, and 4/5 from downtown. As a team, Toronto finished at 58% shooting with 33 points. Irving and Love dueled with Lowry throughout the quarter and combined for 22 of the Cavs’ 31 points. Irving was the high-man with 12, and Love was 2/3 from downtown to net ten points. Cleveland finished at 63% shooting overall but wasn’t as accurate from three-point range as the Raptors were and they still held a 12-point lead going into the fourth, 86-74.
In the fourth, Cleveland wasted no time in burying the Raptors. James and Irving were clutch and came out playing like a duo that wouldn’t rest unless they were going to the Finals. They didn’t play much in the period — less than six-and-a-half minutes each — but combined for 17 points on 7/8 shooting. The Cavs finished the final period with 27 points and stretched their lead out as big as 26; the Raptors struggled mightily on offense and only tallied 13 points on 30% shooting. Lowry and DeRozan were oddly quiet and combined to shoot just 4/10 from the field.
After the final buzzer, during an interview with ESPN’s Doris Burke, LeBron couldn’t help but point out what an incredible fanbase the Raptors have. These playoffs brought a nation together and, despite being bounced, the fans at the Air Canada Centre couldn’t help but chant “Let’s go Raptors!” for one final time.
James also finished as the Cavs’ leading scorer with 33 points and 11 rebounds, and Kyrie Irving was right behind him with 30. Thanks to his third quarter outburst, Kyle Lowry finished as the game’s leading scorer with 35.
Cleveland now eagerly awaits either the Thunder or the Warriors as their Finals opponent, who play Game 6 tonight and Game 7 (if necessary) on Monday, May 30.