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Back-alley beatdowns at The Q

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their assault on the Toronto Raptors in Game 2

Ten up, 10 down.

Give the Toronto Raptors some credit (or at least an A for effort). They kept Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals close for about a quarter and a half. At one point, the game was tied at 46. But by halftime the score was 62-48 and Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers sent the Raptors back to “The 6” down 0-2 following a 108-89 back-alley beat down.

Toronto can’t swim, so the Raptors look bound to drown. And the focus is already shifting away from basketball as folks are asking things like: “Will Drake be courtside?” The Raptors can’t seem to escape the matrix.

Cleveland’s historic light show against Atlanta has dimmed. But Toronto can’t stop Cleveland from eating on the glass or in the paint — the Raptors have been out-rebounded, 91-61, so far in the series. James hasn’t made a shot outside the paint, mainly because he hasn’t had to. Losing Jonas Valanciunas to an ankle injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Toronto, though it’s not as if he would have shifted the series in Toronto’s favor.

And if the point guard matchup was a boxing match, Kyrie Irving — who led all scorers with 26 on Thursday — is Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Kyle Lowry is Arturo Gatti. That fight didn’t last long. And Irving hasn’t even had his “sixth round” yet. Lowry left the bench during Game 2 to “decompress,” which, from the outside looking in, sounded like a captain abandoning his own sinking ship.

Still, business is business. Ten straight playoff wins is cute. But it’s not 16.

To add insult to injury, the Quicken Loans Arena was full of all types of history Thursday night:

  • Arguably the greatest player of all time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, watched from a suite.
  • The Cavs captured their tenth consecutive postseason win, putting them one behind the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers, 2001 Lakers and 2012 San Antonio Spurs for the best start in playoff history. This is kind of a misleading stat, since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers were the only squad of the three to actually win the title.
  • The win moved head coach Tyronn Lue past Pat Riley for most playoff wins to start a coaching career without a loss.
  • The win was also the Cavs’ 17th consecutive Eastern Conference playoff win, the longest within either conference’s history.
  • James’ 23-11-11 was his 15th career postseason triple-double, good for second all time trailing only Magic Johnson’s 30.
  • James moved past O’Neal, his former teammate, for fourth all time in playoff points (two of which came in classic James fashion). Expect him to pass Jason Kidd for third all time in assists early in Game 3. About the only thing that went wrong for James on Thursday night was a cringeworthy 9-for-17 from the free throw line.

Justin Tinsley is a culture and sports writer for The Undefeated. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single-most impactful statement of his generation.