LeBron James made his first nine shots and scored 24 points and the Cavaliers hammered the Raptors 115-84 Tuesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to extend their perfect start to this postseason.
It was the most lopsided postseason win in Cavaliers' history.
Kyrie Irving scored 27 points and Kevin Love had 14 points and four rebounds, his first game in this postseason without a double-double. The Cavs rolled anyway, becoming the first team to win their first nine postseason games since the 2012 San Antonio Spurs, who won their first 10 before losing four straight to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The victory against the Raptors was their most lopsided of this postseason in what has become a dominant run through the East.
DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points for the Raptors, but only six after the first quarter. Fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry scored eight points on another tough 4 of 14 shooting night after scoring a career-high 43 against these Cavs in a February victory at Air Canada Centre.
After sweeping through the first two rounds of the playoffs by setting records with their 3-point shooting, the Cavs instead attacked the heart of the Raptors' defense.
Each of James' first nine baskets came near the restricted area on a night the Cavs shot 55 percent primarily by pounding the interior of the Raptors' defense for 56 points in the paint. They made just seven 3-pointers after averaging nearly 17 per game through the first two rounds.
The Raptors scored the game's first seven points, although the Cavs had the lead within about seven minutes. They extended it to double figures within the first two minutes of the second quarter and rolled the rest of the night. They led by as many as 35 in the fourth quarter.
The sweeps in each of the first two rounds meant the Cavs played just eight games in the last 33 days, while the Raptors were stretched to seven games in each of their first two series. All the time off has done little to disrupt their rhythm. They beat the Atlanta Hawks by double figures in each of the first three games following an eight-day layoff and nine days between games certainly didn't bother them Tuesday.
The Raptors have been in this position before. They have now lost the first game in each of their three series, although they fought back to win the first two.
NOTES: Cavs C Tristan Thompson and Raptors G Cory Joseph have been friends since childhood and they remain in constant communication -- until now. Thompson said he won't be texting Joseph anymore until after the series. "He is one of my really close friends, but now he is the enemy," Thompson said. "There is not going to be too much brotherly love. We have to go at it." ... Raptors G Kyle Lowry raised eyebrows when he called LeBron James "probably one of the best players in the league besides Steph (Curry)," but Lowry insisted Tuesday he meant no disrespect. "I would never throw shade on one of the greatest players in history of basketball," he said. ... Raptors F DeMarre Carroll faced the Cavs in the conference finals last year as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, although he injured his knee in the series. "Last year I was on one leg," he said. "So I am feeling a little more comfortable this year."