CLEVELAND -- Unquestionably, small forward LeBron James, point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Kevin Love are the on-court leaders for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but "The Big Three" are not solely responsible for the successes of the team in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
Whether it is forward Channing Frye or guards Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert coming off the bench to shoot and defend, center Tristan Thompson dominating the boards or guard J.R. Smith making challenging three-pointers, the Cavaliers have gotten plenty of help from their role players in the postseason.
“Our balance is tremendous,” Smith said. “At one point during the fourth quarter, we had three starters on the bench, and our bench guys were going out there playing extremely well, and that’s another good plus about our team because guys don’t get salty that they’re not in the game.
“We understand what this is about, and what we’re trying to accomplish. It was an unbelievable shooting display that Kyle put on for us, so it’s great. That’s why he’s here, and that’s why we’ve got so many shooters around ‘Bron and Ky, so they can make plays.”
In the 109-102 close-out win over the Toronto Raptors Sunday afternoon, James led the way with 35 points to go along with nine rebounds, six assists and a blocked shot. Additionally, Irving scored 27 points to go along with nine assists, five rebounds and four steals.
The Cavaliers got double-digit efforts from Korver (18 points) and Frye (10) off the bench. Korver knocked down four of his six looks from three-point range, while Frye buried two of his three attempts from long distance.
“You better be ready because the one time somebody helps, you’ve got to be ready to shoot that thing,” Frye said. “I just always have my hands ready, and I told Coach Lue, ‘If they’re not getting double-teamed and they don’t get 30, that’s their fault.’”
The Cavaliers used strong shooting from Korver to key a 17-6 scoring run over a five-minute stretch to take a 61-49 lead over the Raptors after the first half.
During the run, the Cavaliers got a long-distance shot from Love, as well as a pair of triples from Korver. In addition to the three-pointers, Korver added two jumpers inside the three-point arc.
Korver’s second three-pointer at the 3:54 mark of the second quarter gave the Cavaliers their first double-digit lead of the game, 51-41. Korver hit four of his first five shots from the field, including two of his three looks from three-point range.
Then, Korver added a pair of late second-quarter three-pointers that keyed an 8-0 scoring run and helped put the Cavaliers in front of the Raptors by 12 points at the half.
“I’ve been waiting to see it,” Smith said. “He had that one game in Indiana, but I didn’t travel with the team, but finally being out there on the court with him, it’s a treat to watch.
“Whenever he shoots the ball, you’ve got to anticipate it going in. He shoots so consistent, and the same way over and over again. Once you talk to him about his shot, he dissects people’s shots better than any person I’ve ever seen, even with mine, so it’s great to have him.”
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