LeBron James finds a new way every game to lead the charge for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he continues to have the number of the Toronto Raptors. James went off for 43 points and 14 assists on Thursday night, as the Cavs went up 2-0 in their series with a 128-110 rout of the Raptors in Toronto. Kevin Love also stepped up with 31 points and 11 rebounds, as the Cavs won their third straight this postseason, including a Game 7 win over the Indiana Pacers, and then an overtime victory over the Raptors in Game 1. The two monster offensive performances on Thursday led the Cavs' offense that shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, as James posted the first 40-point, 14-assist game in NBA postseason history. He fell just short of his second straight triple-double while shooting 19-of-28 from the floor in the Cavaliers' eighth straight postseason win over Toronto. Three other Cavs players finished in double figures with J.R. Smith scoring 15 points, Jeff Green had 14, and George Hill finished with 13. The Raptors had their four-game winning streak snapped in Game 2s, as they were previously 6-1 when hosting the second game of a series. DeMar DeRozan had 24 points, while Kyle Lowry scored 21 to lead the Raptors, who have been eliminated by these Cavaliers the past two postseason.s The series now shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, with these two teams going at it on Saturday night.
Celtics Rally Past Sixers for 2-0 Series Lead
The Boston Celtics have done a good job of shutting down the Philadelphia 76ers' "trust the process" momentum in this postseason, as Thursday night was another deflating result. The Sixers blew a 22-point lead in Boston, as Jayson Tatum stepped up with 21 points on the night, and the Celtics pulled off the comeback with a 108-103 victory for a 2-0 series lead. Tatum hit two free throws late in the final seconds, sealing the third straight win for Boston. Terry Rozier chipped in with 20 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds, while Marcus Smart had 19 points and five rebounds for the Celtics, who improved to 6-0 at home this postseason. They are feeling good about themselves, especially with the fact that this franchise has never blown a 2-0 series lead. The Sixers could not stay ahead, or fight back late, despite JJ Redick's 23 points, including five three-pointers. Robert Covington added 22 points and nine rebounds, and Joel Embiid had a productive night with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists. The one glaring statistic for the Sixers was not on a good note, as Ben Simmons finished with just one point on 0-for-4 shooting, as the rookie blamed "mentally, just thinking too much" for his struggles. Whatever it may be, the Sixers are hoping they can put on a better showing for their home crowd, as the series shifts to the Wells Fargo Center for Saturday's Game 3.
Penguins, Predators Even Second Round Series
Last year's participants in the Stanley Cup Finals both faced series deficits heading in to Thursday, with both taking care of business to keep things competitive. First, Jake Guentzel stayed hot by scoring twice, as the Pittsburgh Penguins evened the series at two-apiece with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at home. The more impressive feat for the Penguins was the fact that they held Alex Ovechkin without a shot on goal for just the third time in his 107 career playoff games. As a team, the Penguins held the Capitals to just three shots in the entire third period, preventing any type of comeback attempt. The Capitals were playing their first game without Tom Wilson, who was suspended three games for his illegal hit to rookie Zach Aston-Reese in Game 3. The series will return to Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. for Game 5 on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators are in a tough fight against their division rivals, but they evened up the series on Thursday with a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4. Nashville leaned on their goaltender, Pekka Rinne, who made 32 saves, helping the Predators snap the Jets' 13-game home win streak, which dated all the way back to March 2nd. Ryan Hartman scored the decisive goal for the Predators, while P.K. Subban added a power play goal in the first period for an early advantage. Outside of that, Connor Hellebuyck played well with 27 saves, while Patrik Laine scored the lone goal for the Jets in the home loss. They failed to give themselves opportunities to tie things late, as Nick Bonino won two clutch faceoffs down the stretch for the Predators. The series will be back in Nashville for Game 5 on Saturday night.