Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Cavs win big, reach Finals

TORONTO — LeBron James scored 33, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds and the Cavaliers secured their second straight trip to the NBA Finals by beating the 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.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the Finals, including four with Miami. The other seven players to reach at least six straight Finals were all on the Celtics teams of the '60s: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders, Tommy Heinsohn and Frank Ramsay.

James finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

The Cavaliers finished 12-2 in East playoff games, tying the best record en route to the Finals since the first round went best of seven for the second consecutive year. The 2003 Nets and 2013 Spurs also went 12-2.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith had 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series 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 tonight's Game 6.

Raptors center Bismack Biyombo would have faced a suspension if Toronto had forced a Game 7. Biyombo picked up a flagrant foul in the first quarter Friday for elbowing Love, giving him four flagrant foul points in the postseason. That would have triggered a one-game suspension.

THUNDER FOCUSED: The Thunder won't say it has to win Game 6 against the Warriors tonight to win the Western Conference final. But the alternative is less than ideal.

Win at home and Oklahoma City will advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012. Lose and the Thunder will be forced to play Game 7 in Oakland. The defending champion Warriors have lost three home games all season.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said his players don't need to get ahead of themselves worrying about results.

"We've got to play the 48 minutes," Donovan said. "That's really what it comes down to. You can get caught up in thinking about the future and what the results mean at the end of the game. But the bottom line is the result at the end of the game will happen, and what you don't want to do is be focused on the result and forget to do your job during the course of 48 minutes."

Oklahoma City has done the job at home in the series. The Thunder won Game 3 133-105, and Game 4 was a 118-94 blowout that put Golden State on the brink of elimination. The Warriors know it's going to take something special to produce a different result at the arena known as Loud City.

"It will take all of our IQ, all of our gamesmanship, and just 48 great minutes to get a win down there, considering how the last two games have gone," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said.

The Warriors saved their season with a 120-111 win Thursday in Oakland.

"Our guys have had a spectacular run here the last two years," coach Steve Kerr said. "They've loved every second of it. They don't want it to end."

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