Cavs move on as Philly stay alive
Cavaliers rout Raptors to complete sweep
LeBron James had his first shot of the game blocked by Toronto’s Serge Ibaka, but that was about as competitive as the East’s number one seed were as Cleveland advanced to its fourth consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, routing the Raptos 128-93.
James was at his brilliant best, recording 29 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds, but it was his supporting cast that carried most of the load for the Cavaliers.
Kevin Love, J.R Smith, Kyle Korver and George Hill, the other four Cavs starters, combined for 66 points and shot a blistering 71 per cent from the field on 25-for-35 shooting.
Love finished with 23 points while Smith didn’t miss a shot, nailing all six field goals including three triples.
The win completes Cleveland’s second consecutive sweep and 10th straight win against Toronto in the playoffs, LeBron ending the Raptors’ season for the third straight year.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors with 18 points but the team that had changed their entire game style following last year’s playoff exit went down without throwing a punch.
They were beaten comprehensively, outscored by 24 in the second and third quarters and in a play that summed up the frustration Toronto players and coaches must feel after another exit at the hands of Cleveland, DeMar DeRozan was ejected late in the third after hitting Jordan Clarkson across the head when he was driving on a fast break.
Toronto must regroup and assess where to go from here given their consecutive failings at the hands of LeBron and co.
Will they commence a rebuild, trade stars DeRozan and Kyle Lowry and fire coach Dwane Casey?
Only time will tell.
If one thing is clear, it’s that something needs to change if they want to get past Cleveland’s number 23.
Philly survive to force Game 5
Two top-three picks and another player selected in the lottery started Game 4 for the Philadelphia 76ers, but it was undrafted T.J. McConnell who provided the spark that kept Philly’s playoff hopes alive and sent the series to Game 5 in Boston on Thursday.
McConnell scored a career-high 19 points in the 103-92 win as his hustle and energy lit the fire that the 76ers needed to stave off elimination.
Dario Saric scored a playoff career-high 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his most impactful game of the second round, while Ben Simmons recorded 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Both squads had a strong on-court disdain for each other; the 76ers Joel Embiid got into squabbles with Celtics Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris.
Rozier nearly came to blows with Embiid after not wanting to release his hold on the basketball following a Celtics turnover while Morris flashed a 3-0 sign with his fingers midway through the third quarter after exchanging words with the Philadelphia big man.
A hostile Boston crowd awaits the young 76ers, more than likely ready to rain boos and Bronx cheers down on Embiid each time he gets possession or misses a shot.
Jayson Tatum topped the Celtics with 20 points as the visitors had just two players score 15 plus (Morris was the other with 17).
Boston will have a second opportunity to eliminate Philadelphia, this time at home in what promises to be a hard fought and spiteful Game 5.