March 4, 2024

The Elements of Dominance: Cavaliers Win Game Five in the First Half


The Cleveland Cavaliers totally dominated the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. At the end of that half, the Cavaliers had a 31-point lead, the largest ever recorded in the history of NBA Conference Finals. The game was basically over at the half.

The Raptors played well during the half. But they were unable to establish any kind of offensive rhythm, because the Cavaliers played brilliant half-court defense, trapping on the high post and rotating on the pick and roll to double team the Raptor guards. This is basically the same sort of defense they have used all series against the Raptors, but in this half they executed it with a vigor and finesse that we’ve not seen before from the Cavaliers.

On offense, it was basically the Kevin Love show. Getting the shooter’s roll on near-misses, hitting from inside and outside. Love scored on every shot he took and he did it from all over the court. He also played excellent defense and caused a few turnovers. He had 19 points in the half. The Cavaliers played their basic offense, which is founded on pick and roll plays, transition scoring and hitting the open perimeter shooter off paint penetration. They executed with precision and the Raptors had no remedy.

The Cavaliers have the most talent in the NBA. They have the highest payroll in the league. It is not surprising that they can totally dominate any team when they play at their highest level. They have the best player in the league in LeBron and two of the best scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. They have the best offensive rebounder in the game in Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith has devoted himself to locking down DeMar DeRozan. They are quite a load for any team to handle.

Tyronn Lue has acquired significant proficiency in handling this juggernaut of talent, and it is hard to believe that Toronto could beat this Cavaliers team in this series. But they have fought valiantly, and could take advantage if the Cavaliers go stone cold again. But it isn’t likely.

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