TORONTO — Big brother is still winning.
The Toronto Raptors had Game 1 of their conference semifinal series on a tee against the tired and struggling Cleveland Cavaliers. They were rested, they were home and they got to play a fatigued LeBron James.
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What happened was James had his least impactful game of the playoffs. Kevin Love had one of the most miserable 20 minutes of basketball of his career. The Raptors had a 14-point lead in the third quarter. They had a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter, a situation that had seen them go 30-1 at home this season. They even had three quality looks to win the game in the final seconds of regulation.
But the Cavs are ahead 1-0 in the series, pulling off yet another close-game victory with a 113-112 overtime win Tuesday night. They have now won five postseason games by a total of 15 points.
The Raptors went into a cocoon down the stretch, calling to mind failures of postseasons past as they shot just 26 percent in the fourth quarter and overtime. They missed their final 11 shots of the fourth quarter. And when they needed baskets, the Cavs were able to neutralize Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, leaving an ailing Fred VanVleet to take (and miss) two clutch 3-pointers.
The Raptors fans were so stunned and the Cavs party so proud, rapper Drake nearly got into an on-court fracas with Cleveland’s Kendrick Perkins as the Cavs left the floor.
James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for a nice-looking line, but he was certainly off his game, shooting 3-for-15 in the fourth quarter and overtime. For the first time this postseason, James truly got deep and meaningful help from his teammates.
But the biggest contribution was from first-round Game 7 hero Tristan Thompson. Not part of the game plan originally, he came off the bench and recorded 14 points and 12 rebounds. He was able to slow the Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas, who scored 21 points and terrorized Love for the first three quarters.
The Raptors are now 1-11 in their past 12 Game 1s, and 1-7 at home.
And for the third year in a row, the Cavs are up 1-0.