LeBron James had 43 points and 14 assists to lead the Cavaliers to a 128-110 throttling of Toronto on Thursday, and takes a 2-0 lead in their second-round series back to Cleveland, where the Raptors have never won in five playoff games.
Cavs big man Kevin Love added 31 points and 11 rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan had 24 points, while Kyle Lowry finished with 21 for the Raptors, who lost two consecutive games at home for the first time in their historic 59-win season. Jonas Valanciunas chipped in with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Fred VanVleet had 14 points off the bench.
And once again, Serge Ibaka, who’s been virtually M.I.A. for most of the postseason, had another horrible night – two points from free throws and 0-for-5 shooting.
Twice already Toronto has been dispatched by Cleveland in the postseason, in the Eastern Conference finals in 2016 and then last season, when the Raptors were swept in the second round, prompting general manager Masai Ujiri’s culture reset and revamp of the team’s playing style.
On Thursday, the Raptors led for most of the first half, but never by more than nine points, and were clutching just a two-point advantage at halftime.
The series now shifts to Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, where the Raptors are 0-5 in playoff appearances, losing by an average of 24.2 points. Game 4 is Monday in Cleveland and a Game 5, if necessary, would be in Toronto on Wednesday.
The white-clad capacity Air Canada Centre crowd included Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and Drake, who was far less animated in his courtside seat than during Tuesday’s game. Drake left the arena with two minutes to play.