Cavaliers record biggest play-off win

ADAPTABLE BUNCH: We're not a jump-shooting team. We're a balanced team. We're able to do whatever the game dictates, and we're able to adjust to that. - LEBRON JAMES, Cleveland Cavaliers star, on his team's versatility.
ADAPTABLE BUNCH: We're not a jump-shooting team. We're a balanced team. We're able to do whatever the game dictates, and we're able to adjust to that. - LEBRON JAMES, Cleveland Cavaliers star, on his team's versatility.

They thrash tired Raptors by 31 points to grab hold of initiative in Eastern Conference finals

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • The Cleveland Cavaliers maintained their 100 per cent post-season record this campaign on Tuesday with a crushing 115-84 defeat of the weary Toronto Raptors, to take a 1-0 lead in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals.

Kyrie Irving scored 27 points while LeBron James added 24 as the Cavaliers dominated almost from start to finish to the delight of their fans at the Quicken Loans Arena.

The 31-point rout was Cleveland's biggest victory in a play-off game.

The Cavaliers went into the game well-rested after wrapping up back-to-back 4-0 sweeps in their opening two post-season series.

On the evidence of Game One, few would bet against James and the Cavaliers making short work of the Raptors.

James attributed the win to Cleveland's attention to detail.

"It's our preparation, every single day. We understand the moment that we're in and the guys are rising to that," he said.

"The coach is doing a great job of giving us a game plan and we're just trying to go out and execute.

"We had a couple of mistakes but for the most part our attention to detail was there for all 48 minutes - we've got to continue to do that in Game Two."

The outcome of the contest was effectively decided in a devastating period of Cleveland dominance which began late in the first quarter and continued to the half-time buzzer.

A 28-27 Toronto lead with around one minute left on the clock in the first quarter rapidly became a 39-28 lead for Cleveland, as they reeled off 12 unanswered points.

The Raptors were always struggling to stay in touch and it rapidly became an exercise in damage limitation for the visitors, playing their 15th game of the post-season.

The Cavaliers quickly sprinted into a 49-30 lead and although the Raptors hit back to narrow the gap to 54-42, it was only a temporary staunching of the tide.

Cleveland produced another burst of points and by half-time had surged into a 22-point lead at 64-44, Toronto's woe exacerbated by consecutive air balls to close the half.

The Cavs made just seven three-pointers but shot 55.4 per cent and scored 56 points in the paint.

"Tonight they wanted us to be in the paint," James said.

"We tried to take advantage of that. I keep telling you we're not a jump-shooting team. We're a balanced team. We're able to do whatever the game dictates, and we're able to adjust to that."

DeMar DeRozan led the scoring for the Raptors with 18 points, but it was a miserable night for Kyle Lowry, who finished with only eight points.

"We've got to come out of the gate being aggressive, like we usually do," Lowry said.

"I think we didn't try to do that until later on in the game."

Over in New York on Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers were handed the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, handing the franchise a vital boost as they attempt to rebuild after yet another disastrous season.

They finished with a league- worst 10-72 this season, after stumbling to a record losing streak of 28 games early in the season.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics were handed the second and third choice draft picks respectively.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Cavaliers record biggest play-off win'. Print Edition | Subscribe