The Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Toronto Raptors with a win on Sunday, heading to their third straight Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland shut the doors on Toronto’s season Sunday afternoon behind hot shooting from beyond the three point line, as they had all series against an out-manned Raptors team.
Cleveland Cavaliers Sweep Toronto Raptors, Head To Third Straight Eastern Conference Finals
The Cavaliers were in control from the jump, as the Raptors simply could not shoot the ball at their level. The Raptors could not hit a number of open threes, and the Cavs were an offensive juggernaut across the board. They ended Toronto’s season with a 109-102 win on the road.
Cleveland Had Too Many Weapons
LeBron James displayed why he’s still the best player in the NBA all series. He posted a stat-line of 36.0 points on 57.3% shooting, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the four games. He also had a true shooting rate of 72.9% (per nba.com). The supporting cast got the job done for James, too.
The Cavs coupled the all-around efficiency of James with the three ball, as they shot 46.6% as a team from beyond the arc against Toronto (per nba.com). In the first two games they made 32 threes, whereas the Raptors had just 15. In Toronto it was more of the same in that department, as Cleveland had 29 threes in Games 3 and 4. The Raptors made just 12.
The midseason addition of Kyle Korver really shined on the road as well, highlighting the depth of this Cavs roster. Between him and Channing Frye, they combined to shoot 59.7% from three point range (per nba.com). The Raptors couldn’t get out to all the Cavs’ shooters.
An Unfortunate Showing For Toronto
The Raptors did all they could as an isolation offense predicated on the shot-making of DeMar DeRozan, but an unfortunate ankle injury to Kyle Lowry in Game 2 was pretty much the end of the series. The Raptors needed both to be superstars to have a chance against Cleveland’s high-powered perimeter offense, and that was just not the case.
The Cavs got great defense on DeRozan from J.R. Smith, and doubled him in most instances. He had an inefficient 19 points with four turnovers in Game 1, and followed that up with just 5 points on 18.2% shooting in Game 2. Lowry did pretty well in his time on the floor on the road, with combining for 40 points and 16 assists in the two games. His unlucky ankle injury left so much to be desired for the Raptors offense going back home, though.
The Inconsistent Supporting Cast
The Raptors got two DeRozan-like performances at home, but they couldn’t get enough from the supporting cast throughout this series. Other than Cory Joseph filling in well for Lowry at point guard, Toronto did not get any consistent shooting from the field to combat Cleveland’s three point arsenal. Serge Ibaka made some plays in flashes, but there was not much head coach Dwane Casey could do in regards to lineup changes.
The Raptors missed so many wide-open looks in every game. The Cavs defense did a pretty good job keeping Toronto’s looks in the paint in check, with James erasing shots from the weak side and Tristan Thompson having a presence at the rim.
Decisions For The Raptors
While the Cavs have the East seemingly on lock for the next few years with James being a superhuman, the Raptors have major decisions ahead this offseason. Lowry has indicated that he is going to opt out of his contract (per Bleacher Report’s Josh Martin) and be in the free agency sweepstakes in the coming months. He said he wants a ring, no matter how he gets it. Will the Raptors continue to contend with the 31-year old All-Star running the point next to his buddy DeRozan?
We shall see what Toronto General Manager Masai Ujiri wants to do. Lowry is clearly a good player in this league, but is this team ever going to really challenge for the East crown with this nucleus? With Ibaka and wing defender P.J. Tucker also free agents, Toronto needs to decide if they want to keep their roster mostly the same as it is now, or try to rebuild around young talent. It would help them if DeRozan could shoot some threes anyhow.
Nonetheless, NBA fans can look forward to James in the NBA Finals again. Whoever he plays in the Eastern Conference Finals is likely not meaningful.
17 December 2015: Cleveland Cavaliers Forward LeBron James (23) during the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Oh. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)