CLEVELAND -- Rust? What rust?
Despite an eight-day layoff since closing out the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers hustled their way to a 116-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena Monday night.
Small forward LeBron James scored a game-high 35 points and finished off a double-double with 10 rebounds over 42 minutes of play. Additionally, James assisted on four baskets, stole one pass and blocked a shot in the winning effort.
James converted 13 of his 23 attempts from the field, including two three-pointers and seven of his eight shots at the free-throw line.
In addition to James, the Cavaliers got double-digit scoring efforts from point guard Kyrie Irving (24 points), power forward Kevin Love (18) and center Tristan Thompson (11). Both Thompson (11 points, 14 rebounds) and Irving (24 points, 10 assists) finished off double-doubles in the victory.
The Cavaliers came out firing against the Raptors, and the efficient play on the offensive end of the floor, mixed with aggressiveness on defense, led to a 30-18 advantage after the first quarter of play.
After missing on their first attempt from the field and watching the Raptors hit the first shot of the game, the Cavaliers responded with a 10-0 run and never looked back.
Love hit the first shot, a three-pointer from the left side of the floor, and then, after James made a layup, Irving followed up with a triple of his own.
Then, James got a steal and kicked it out to Irving, who drove to the lane and kissed it off the top of the backboard back to James for the left-handed throw-down dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and the Raptors to a timeout.
Irving led the way with 12 first-quarter points, while James and Love accounted for six each over the first 12 minutes of play.
As a team, the Cavaliers knocked down 11 of their first 21 looks from the field, including a four-for-seven showing from three-point range despite not playing a game since last Sunday. Conversely, the Raptors connected on seven of their 21 looks in the first quarter.
The Raptors started the second quarter on a 19-3 run that cut the Cavaliers’ advantage down to a single possession, but they had a response in the form of a 21-10 run of their own to end the first half.
With the strong finish to the second quarter, the Cavaliers took a 62-48 lead over the Raptors into halftime.
The Big Three led the way for the Cavaliers in the first half, as Irving had 16 points on five-of-11 shooting, including a two-for-five mark from three point range. Additionally, James and Love added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Like Irving, James hit five of his 11 attempts in the first half, while Love went four for seven, including a perfect two-for-two showing from three-point range.
The Cavaliers knocked down nine of their 21 looks from three-point range in the first half, with Love, Irving, shooting guard J.R. Smith and reserve guard Kyle Korver each knocking down a pair of shots from long distance. Backup forward Channing Frye buried one of his two looks from three-point range in the half.
The Cavaliers came storming out of the locker room after halftime, and outpaced the Raptors by eight points on the way to a 96-74 lead after the third quarter.
James took over the action and scored a team-high 12 points in the quarter, nearly equaling the 13 he had in the first half. James sunk three of his five looks from the field, including two of his three tries from long distance in the quarter.
In addition to James, the Cavaliers got 19 points from the other four starters, including eight from Thompson to go along with the six Irving and five Love accounted for in the quarter.
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