TORONTO — LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love contributed 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers secured their second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors, 113-87, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday night.
It’s the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.
“We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that,” Coach Tyronn Lue said. “This city has been craving a championship. We have the right team and we have the right talent.”
James, who finished with 11 rebounds and six assists, will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn’t play for the Boston Celtics.
“He’s just a great player,” Lue said. “He’s a proven winner. He’s always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable.”
Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smithh added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series in Game 1 on June 2.
Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday.
The Cavaliers will be seeking to end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.
Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered “Let’s go, Raptors! Let’s go, Raptors!” throughout most of the final three minutes.
Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre, counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.
The Raptors trailed 88-78 after a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavaliers a 102-81 lead with about six minutes left.
James scored 14 in the first quarter, and five of Cleveland’s nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led by six points, 31-25, after one.
After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.
Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.
Cleveland made five more three-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 three-point shots in the first half, while Toronto was two of 12.
The Cavaliers led 78-57 after a three-pointer by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.