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Cavaliers cruise to 2-0 series lead

By JOE VARDON • May 3, 2018 at 10:28 PM

TORONTO — This was Kevin Love's best game in the 2018 playoffs, and the only player capable of outshining him Thursday was LeBron James.

The Cavs' two All-Stars were way, way too much for the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference semifinal, accounting for 74 points in Cleveland's 128-110 win.

The Cavs have a commanding 2-0 lead in this series with the next two games slated for The Q. The Cavs have won eight straight playoff games over the Raptors dating to the 2016 conference finals. Toronto is in danger of getting swept out of the conference semis by James and Co. for the second straight season.

James, as previously mentioned, went off in Game 2. He recovered from his 12-of-30 effort in Game 1 to go for 43 points, eight rebounds, and tied a career playoff high with 14 assists. He shot 19-of-28 in 40 minutes, and scored 27 points after halftime.

James passed Elgin Baylor for eighth all time with his 104th playoff double double. This was his 23rd playoff game with at least 40 points and his fourth so far this postseason.

Love, meanwhile, gave the Cavs 31 points and 11 boards on 11-of-21 shooting. He entered play shooting .323 and averaging just 10.9 points during the playoffs, and upset because coach Tyronn Lue wouldn't take him off of Jonas Valanciunas.

Well, forget the bruising Toronto 7-footer. Time and again the Raptors switched smaller players onto Love and he devastated them.

JR Smith added 15 points, Jeff Green scored 14 off the bench and George Hill contributed 13 points.

The Raptors received 24 points from DeMar DeRozan and 21 from Kyle Lowry, who mustered just three in the second half. Valanciunas was good again in his own right, following up the 21 points and 21 boards he had in Game 1 with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Toronto was the No. 1 team in the East during the regular season and was the only team in the NBA ranked in the top five in offense and defense.

But the Raptors don't have LeBron. And they've lost four straight to Cleveland now, counting the regular season.

The Cavs (yes, the Cavs) erupted in the third quarter to turn this game in their favor. They opened with runs of 8-0 and 18-5 in the first four minutes. James dialed up 15 points in the period and Cleveland turned what was a two-point halftime deficit into what was at one-time a 15-point lead.

A couple bad shots at the end of the period allowed the Raptors to get a little closer at 98-87 heading into the fourth. Cleveland entered Game 2 having been outscored by 26 in third quarters this postseason. The Cavs shot 73 percent in the third on Thursday.

James closed out the game with 12 points in the fourth — all on jumpers.

Love took nine shots in the first quarter. He only made four, but for him, in these playoffs, it counts as an excellent start. He scored seven points for all of Game 1.

By halftime, Love was up to 7-of-14 shooting for 18 points. James had 16 in the first half and the Cavs trailed 63-61. He drained a jumper with .7 seconds to go, but missed two foul shots on the possession before that could've mean a halftime tie.

Toronto was 7-of-14 on 3s in the first half, with three from Lowry (18 points), and shot .595 overall (25-of-42). The Cavs were 3-of-12 from deep.

The Raptors should've been ahead by more. It was a harbinger of very, very bad things to come for them.

Game 3 is at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at The Q.

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