Basketball

Cavaliers sweep into Conference Finals

Irving steps up in fourth quarter as Cleveland stay unbeaten in play-offs

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINAL, GAME FOUR
TORONTO RAPTORS CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
102 109

The Cleveland Cavaliers remain undefeated in their first eight play-off games this season.

That does not mean it has been easy, even though they were able to complete a four-game sweep of their Eastern Conference semi-final series yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a 109-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors after giving up the lead in the fourth quarter.

"We understand it's never easy especially in a close-out game," said Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and added nine assists.

"There's desperation at their end and desperation at our end."

LeBron James scored 35 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had six assists to lead the Cavaliers, who won the NBA championship last season and will play either the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"Winning close-out games is always tough," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.

"Give credit to (Raptors coach Dwane) Casey, he had them ready to play, they came out and competed. They made threes today, it was tough on us."

The Raptors were playing without point guard Kyle Lowry, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Game Two last Wednesday. He was in uniform for Game Three but did not play and was scratched from Game Four.

"They have good players, even without Kyle," Lue said.

Casey said: "It's tough because we know we can play better than we did in the first two games, and we didn't.

"Today, I thought the players laid it on the line. I thought the guys played with grit, toughness and togetherness.

"(The Cavaliers) present so many problems offensively, they have so many weapons.

"The way they were making shots, and they were well-guarded, you're going to have to score 117-118 points a night to beat them."

Cleveland had a 12-point lead after the first half and entered the fourth quarter ahead by five.

The Raptors took a 93-92 lead with 6:38 left when Serge Ibaka made a free-throw to complete a three-point play.

Irving put the Cavaliers back on top with a three-pointer and, with 5:34 to go, made two free-throws to make it a four-point lead.

Irving's lay-up with four minutes left had Cleveland ahead by eight points.

"In that fourth quarter, I just went to (isolations) for Kyrie," Lue said.

"We needed that spark," said James, who hit a three-pointer with just under three minutes left to put the Cavaliers ahead by 11.

"A lot of the offence was on LeBron's shoulders," said Irving, who was willing to share the load.

James had nine points in the fourth quarter.

Kyle Korver added 18 points, including 4-of-6 on three-point attempts, for the Cavaliers off the bench, and Channing Frye contributed 10 points.

Ibaka scored 23 points for the Raptors while DeMar DeRozan had 22 points and eight assists.

"You have to give them credit, they are a heck of a three-point-shooting team," DeRozan said.

"They get hot, one of the best shooters in the league in Kyle Korver. They do a great job of getting him going and it showed tonight.

"They're a hell of a team for a reason. They have one of the greatest players (James) of all time." - REUTERS


OTHER RESULTS

Eastern Conference semi-final, Game Four

  • Washington Wizards 121 Boston Celtics 102 (Series tied at 2-2)

Western Conference semi-final, Game Four

  • Houston Rockets 125 San Antonio Spurs 104 (Series tied at 2-2)
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