Cleveland Cavaliers silence raucous Raptors crowd to return to NBA finals
The NBAs perpetual underdogs finally saw the best season in franchise history come to an end on Friday night as the Toronto Raptors fell to the Cavaliers
The NBAs perpetual underdogs finally saw the best season in franchise history come to an end on Friday night as the Toronto Raptors fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. With the win, the Cavaliers reached their second consecutive NBA finals.
And while it wasnt quite the dismantling that was seen in Game 5 was (a 116-78 Cavaliers win) the Cavs will enter the finals with confidence, having handed the Raptors only their third home court post-season loss in 11 games at the Air Canada Centre.
The home faithful rarely fell quiet, continually hoping for a miracle after the Game 5 drubbing. Raptors fans, who throughout the season made the ACC one of the more difficult buildings to play in for visiting teams, were treated to and ugly first half. A series of questionable calls slowed the pace of the game to a crawl. The referees threatened to become the storyline as 22 fouls were called in the first half. Among them was a flagrant foul assigned to Raptors center Bismack Biyombo after an elbow against Kevin Love. The flagrant would have ruled Biyombo out of Game 7.
But Game 7, and the NBA finals for that matter, was not meant to be for the Raptors. There are good teams and there are elite teams in the NBA and the Friday night drew a clear line in the sand between the two.
And just as there are good and elite teams, there is LeBron James.
James was a force all game, shrugging off persistent boos from the rowdy home crowd, to lead the Cavaliers scorers with 33 points, including going 3-6 from three-point range and shooting 59.1% from the field. I think he has a chance in this league, Raptors Coach Dwane Casey joked. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said before the evenings events that This is our Game 7 and as to be expected, James responded through 41:15 minutes. His performance was no joke as he slowly broke down the Raptors defense, continually finding open lanes.
The third quarter saw the Raptors mount their best effort, outscoring the Cavaliers 33-31. It wasnt enough to swing the momentum back in their favour, however. Even with Kyle Lowry, fresh off his appointment to the All NBA third team, doing Kyle Lowry things and leading all scorers with 35 points, it wasnt enough against a Cavaliers team who have played with a newfound consistency through the playoffs.
The Raptors will have to wait for next season for another crack at their first ever NBA finals. Despite the loss in Game 6, you have to believe theyve finally shed the underdog tag once and for all.