Cavs sweep Raptors but Sixers stay alive

Lebron James led the way as the Cleveland Cavaliers wrapped up a series sweep with a ruthless demolition of the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart drive for a loose ball during the second quarter of Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Monday. 

Lebron James led the way as the Cleveland Cavaliers wrapped up a series sweep with a ruthless demolition of the Toronto Raptors on Monday to book their place in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

James, the buzzer-beating hero of Cleveland’s epic victory in Game 3 on Saturday, scored 29 points as Toronto’s bid to avoid the ignominy of a 0-4 series loss ended in a 128-93 pounding.

Toronto had entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed from the Eastern Conference, and was desperate to avoid a third straight series defeat to James and the Cavaliers after losses in 2016 and 2017.

But its fragility was underscored by a rampant Cleveland on Monday, with James leading a blowout win that ensures the Cavs will be well rested for the Eastern Conference finals, where they will play either Boston or Philadelphia.

“It was a great series for us,” James said afterwards. “We had a lot of challenges, considering the dominance (Toronto) had in the regular season. But we had a great gameplan and we executed it.

“We want to continue to improve. I think we’ve done that from the 7-game series against Indiana to these 4 games.”

James was once more the tormentor in chief for the Raptors, contributing 8 rebounds and 11 assists in addition to his 29 points in Cleveland.

Four other Cavaliers starters cracked double digits, with Kevin Love scoring 23 points and Kyle Korver 16 points. JR Smith added 15 points while George Hill had 12.

Toronto’s miserable night saw DeMar DeRozan ejected in the fourth quarter while Kyle Lowry was restricted to just 5 points. Jonas Valanciunas was a notable beacon of resistance, providing 18 points off the bench. But it was too little, too late for Toronto, which was comprehensively outplayed in every department.

In Monday’s other playoff game, TJ McConnell and Dario Saric combined to give the Philadelphia 76ers a lifeline with a 103-92 win over the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics could have clinched a 4-0 sweep but instead the Sixers’ win ensured there will be a Game 5 in Boston tomorrow.

McConnell’s introduction into the starting line-up proved crucial for the Sixers, with the point guard scoring a career-high 19 points.

Croatian power forward Saric added 25 points while Ben Simmons finished with 19 points and Joel Embiid 15.

With NBA teams down 0-3 having lost all 129 series, the Sixers may need more than spirit to pull off this stunner.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 20 points and Marcus Morris had 17.

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