James, defense carve out early lead
The physicality of Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby was no match for James, who muscled his way to the hoop and tallied six consecutive points on three left-handed layups within three minutes of the second quarter starting. James’ assertiveness on the offensive end yielded six field goals on 12 attempts, with rebounds (four) and assists (five) being less of a focal point.
“I just think he has that edge,” said head coach Tyronn Lue. “Starting this second round, I can see it. He’s a special player and we all know that. I just ran out of things to say that he does for us.”
Defense was the biggest dimension of the strong first half, with Toronto committing 11 turnovers over the first 24 minutes of play. Jordan Clarkson spearheaded the effort, notching two steals and using quick hands to interfere with passing lanes. DeMar DeRozan had as many points (three) as he did turnovers (three), with an efficiency rating of -22 on 1-of-9 shooting from the field…
DeMar DeRozan finished with 3 points in the 1st half…
DeRozan has 6 playoff halves with 3 points or fewer in his career. 4 have come against the Cavaliers. pic.twitter.com/yVms6T0v2b
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 6, 2018
“I don’t know what it was,” head coach Dwane Casey said of DeRozan’s shooting woes. “He had a tough shooting night.”
“He just didn’t shoot it well,” said Kyle Lowry. “I’m not worried about him. At the end of the day, he’s going to come back on Monday and be ready to go. It’s nothing, I’m not worried about it. You know, a tough shooting night.”
The stout defense would parlay into another scoring outburst prior to the intermission.
Korver rattled off seven straight points on a quick-release trey and two high-percentage shots down low. The Cavaliers finished the half on a 16-2 run, firing on all cylinders to extend the margin to a game-high 15 points. Love and Jeff Green punctuated the half with a three-pointer from the top of the key and one-handed slam, both of which were assisted by James.
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