Canadian Women’s National Team to face Turkey in Edmonton Grads International Classic July 4-7


EDMONTON, Alta. (May 17, 2018) – Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team will face Turkey in a three-game exhibition series as the Edmonton Grads International Classic returns to the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton on July 4-7.

Date Tip-off Location
Wednesday, July 4 7:00pm Saville Community Sports Centre
Friday, July 6 7:00pm
Saturday, July 7 3:00pm
Single game tickets and full tournament passes are now available here for as low as $8.00.
“Playing at home is always an honour and privilege and one that our entire team and staff look forward to,” said Lisa Thomaidis, Head Coach, Senior Women’s National Team. “We appreciate the support the City of Edmonton has always shown our team and we can’t wait to get back on the court to play against a world class team in Turkey this July.”This will be the third edition of the Edmonton Grads International Classic after Canada faced China (2016) and Brazil (2014).

The Edmonton Grads International Classic is named in honour of the women’s basketball team who rose to fame en route to setting a North American record with the best winning percentage (96.2 percent) of all-time. The team won 502 of 522 official games and also claimed the first women’s world basketball title in 1924.

Canada Basketball is also proud to announce the creation of a Most Valuable Player Award for the Edmonton Grads International Classic in honour of long-time Edmonton city councillor, Bryan Anderson.  A former high school physical education teacher and local basketball coach, Anderson was instrumental in creating the basketball partnership between Canada Basketball, Alberta Basketball and the City of Edmonton.

Currently ranked 7th in the FIBA World ranking presented by Nike, Turkey qualified for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 after a fifth place finish at the FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017.  Turkey finished sixth at the 2016 Rio Olympics and earned a fourth place finish as the hosts of the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.

Prior to the Edmonton Grads International Classic, Canada will hold Senior Women’s National Team Tryouts (June 15-21) and Phase 1 Training Camp (June 22-July 3) at the Saville Community Sports Centre.  Additional information regarding both camps will be announced at a later date.

The Edmonton Grads International Classic will help Canada continue preparations for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 (Sept. 22-30) in Tenerife, Spain.  Canada finished fifth in 2014 for their best result since winning bronze at the 1986 FIBA World Championship for Women.

After successfully defending their FIBA Americas title last summer, Canada is currently ranked a program-high 5thin the FIBA World ranking presented by Nike.

About Canada Basketball
Canada Basketball is the National Sporting Organization for the sport of Basketball in Canada. Canada Basketball is respected worldwide and is recognized by the International Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Government of Canada as the sole governing body of the sport of amateur basketball in Canada. Canada Basketball, a not-for-profit organization, represents all basketball interests, provides leadership, coordination and direction in all areas of the sport of basketball.
Courtesy Canada Basketball

On Point Basketball to select Team Canada for 2018 JUMP10 World Hoops Challenge in Shanghai, China


On Point Basketball is proud to be the organization that will be selecting Team Canada which will compete in the JUMP10 tournament in Shanghai, China.


The selection will take place after a combine on Saturday May 12th, 2018 at 3pm at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough, Ontario. Team Canada will send 8 players and 2 coaches to compete in this exciting and unique basketball event. The event is from August 16th-19th, 2018. The winning team collects $100,000 USD. The finalists collect $30,000 USD. Third Place.

***Players attending the combine are responsible for a $20 combine fee and if selected for the final roster, their own Chinese Visa’s (approx. $100-210 with fees). Selected players’ airfare to China, transportation, accommodations, meals are provided by JUMP10.

Visa Services Canada site/information for reference click HERE

Team Canada finished 2nd in 2017’s tourney and will look to take the next step and bring home the Championship this time around! High level ballers circle May 12th on your calendar because it’s going to be a special day for basketball in Canada. More information to come including registration information and combine details.

Partners involved include Paper, Crane & Co., WAVV Global Headphones, MCup Basketball, Mega City Basketball, The Health Institute (THI) GP8 Oxygen Water, Barnburner and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.


***PLAYERS Click HERE to register in advance***

For combine information and/or sponsorship inquiries:

Please email Ashleigh Martin at and/or

Facebook link click HERE

Website link click HERE

JUMP10 World Hoops Challenge, founded in 2016, the one and only world-class folk basketball challenge in Asia, started by local Chinese ballers.

About the JUMP10 brand

JUMP -Basketball is a sport involved jumping;

10-10 seconds to speed up adrenaline, 10 warriors to conquer this court, 10 feet is the height from the floor to the rim, the distance to achieve the dream.

JUMP 10 is all about gathering ballers all over the nation, after they receive intense training from a team of professional coaches, they are expected to play against elite teams from various countries. We ought to expose those amateurs to the basketball cultural charm, meanwhile, give a hand to the course of Chinese basketball development. Here, ball masters from each corner could play against, learn from, become friends even brothers with one another.

JUMP10 is a platform for basketball communication with an international standard, through which domestic amateurs could compare with world-class players. At the same time, players from other counties are able to know thoroughly about the development of the Chinese basketball industry. With the success holding of 2016 JUMP 10 event, this year we will enlarge the scale of the event, and divide the matches throughout the whole year into Selection, elite camp and the final tournament.

JUMP10 Worldwide Selection

The Selection series begin in March and end in July 2017, taking place in 16 cities in China and 12 cities and countries in Europe, USA and the Asia Pacific areas. With the Team China selection series, those distinguished ones are very likely to be selected into the elite camp. For those who audition overseas, the winner will represent their nation to compete in the 2018 JUMP10 World Hoop Challenge Tournament.

JUMP10 Training Camp

This year, the JUMP10 training camp will continue the last two years’ strong line-up, an experienced coaching team led by the former NBA player Audie Norris. The 48 Chinese players with be coached by the most comprehensive and professional training. 32 players will be chosen to form 4 teams representing China and compete against teams from 20 countries covering 5 continents, fighting for the 2018 JUMP10 Championship.

Great world powers gather together in Shanghai.

2018 JUMP10 World Hoops Challenge will take place at the Shanghai landmark Expo site from August 16th to 19th, at the unique venue with a view of Huangpu River and a capacity of 3,000 seats. Apart from those 4 Chinese teams, 12 international teams will participate in it as well. The match has adapted a unique and original games rule, in order to tight up the tempo of the game, making the results unpredictable. Most final players have a professional basketball background, and the total amount of bonus reaches highly at $200,000.

About the founders

Andy Wu, vice president of Rucker Sports development Ltd. Shanghai, who’s in charge of the organization and the carry-out of international sports events, promotion of the company’s brand name, development and sales of the sports products with a 12-year working experience in the branded sports company. He once was the project leader in some huge scale events of NBA China, Reebok, 361°, etc.

Event info courtesy JUMP10 

Raptors get swept away by the Cavs who advance to the ECF vs. the Celtics


The Toronto Raptors had their best regular season in franchise history with 59 wins and a culture change on the offensive end that switched from isolation ball to an egalitarian system. The young bench more than exceeded expectations on both ends of the floor and Toronto finished atop the Eastern Conference for the first time ever.

None of that changed the fact that this season ended the way it did last year… which was a second round sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the fourth seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.

Toronto’s season ended Monday night in a 128-93 thumping at the hands of the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in which the visitors were outclassed from the midway point of the second quarter.

It is the third straight year in which the Raptors’ season has ended at the hands of the Cavs and now have a 10 game playoff losing streak against them, dating back to Game 5 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto’s shooting simply wasn’t there in the game as they shot 26.7 per cent (4-15) from behind the arc.

The Cavaliers dominated Game 4, as they shot 59.5 per cent overall and 46.2 per cent from downtown. Cleveland outpaced Toronto in made baskets (50-36), threes made (13-4), rebounding (48-39), assists (29-19), steals (9-3), fast break points (13-4), and points in the paint (64-52).

All five starters scored in double figures for Cleveland, led by James with 29 points and a game high 11 assists to go with eight rebounds as he continues to leave his mark during this postseason. Kevin Love had 23 points while Kyle Korver hit four triples and scored 16. J.R Smith was perfect from the field with 15 points and George Hill had 12.

Five players scored in double figures for the Raptors, led by 18 points off the bench from Jonas Valanciunas in 16 minutes. DeMar DeRozan and CJ Miles each had 13 while Serge Ibaka had 12 and Delon Wright chipped in with 10. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 10 assists in the loss.

To add insult to injury, DeRozan was ejected late in the third quarter via a Flagrant 2 foul after hitting Jordan Clarkson in the head while he went up for a layup. Even worse, Clarkson made the shot.

Both teams started off red hot to start off the game but the Raptors had two straight defensive breakdowns in which Hill went to the basket untouched for dunks.

Cleveland went up by as many as 10 in the first quarter led by Smith’s 12 as the home team jumped out early, shooting 65 per cent from the field and 60 per cent from three but led by DeRozan’s seven first quarter points, Toronto only trailed, 30-26, after one.

Valanciunas made his presence felt on the offensive end as Toronto took a 38-36 lead four minutes into the second quarter. After a pair of Cavalier baskets and a layup from Miles, Korver hit a triple to break a 40-40 tie with 6:49 left in the first half to give Cleveland the lead for good, part of a 7-0 run.

It was 51-47 when Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, in somewhat of a strange decision, subbed in Lucas Nogueira for Ibaka with 2:44 left in the half. Cleveland then went on a 12-0 run the rest of the way as they took a 63-47 lead into intermission.

It was the James and Love show in the third quarter as both of them combined for 27 points, outscoring the Raptors by themselves in the quarter alone. Cleveland shot 68.4 per cent from the field in the third frame as Toronto had no answer for them defensively, and the top seed in the East were 12 minutes away from elimination, trailing 100-72.

Both teams then emptied out their benches for the majority of the fourth quarter as the Quicken Loans Arena fans began to celebrate what turned out to be a dominating series from the Cavaliers.

A full breakdown of the Toronto Raptors’ season will be up later on.

Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam


Canada’s Youth men rise to No.2 in FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike


TORONTO, ON (May 10, 2018) – Following a historic summer, Canada’s youth men have risen to a program-high No. 2 in the FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike.

When the revised rankings were revealed earlier this week following the completion of the FIBA U16 Asia Championship 2017 2018, Canada moved past Lithuania and now trails only the United States. The improvement in ranking was sparked by the accomplishments of the U16 and the U19 teams this past summer.

Canada’s climb up the rankings can be largely attributed to the team’s historic finish at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017.  Canada defeated Italy, 79-60, in the finals as the country captured the first-ever gold medal at an international FIBA competition. The tournament also saw Canada earn a monumental 99-77 victory over the United States in the semifinals, leading to their eventual gold medal.

At the FIBA U16 Americas Championship 2017, Canada earned a silver medal in the tournament after falling to the United States in the finals. As a result of their second-place finish, Canada officially qualified for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 which will take place later this summer.

This past summer was filled with successes for Canada’s youth men’s teams and they will look to replicate that same success this summer.  Canada will host the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2018 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, ON, while the U17 team will travel to Argentina for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018.

The FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2018 will no doubt be a pivotal tournament for the national team, not only because Canada is hosting it, but because of the opportunity the tournament poses going into next summer. The seven-day tournament sees the top eight teams from the FIBA Americas zone vying for a top-four finish to qualify for the FIBA U19 World Cup 2019.

Canada has met the United States in each of the last two tournaments in 2014 and 2016, earning a silver in both appearances. Canada will look to utilize the homecourt advantage and end United States’ four-year reign.

St. Catharines, the host city for the tournament, is known as a premier tourist destination synonymous with scenic beauty and sports excellence.  The world-class Meridian Centre will play host to the bi-annual event taking place June 10-16, 2018.

Approximately a month later, Canada will travel to Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina in order to take part in the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 (July 21-29, 2018). The United States has earned a gold medal in each of the past four tournaments since 2010, however, after earning a silver this past summer, Canada will look to carry that momentum into Argentina this year and earn the gold.

Canada’s highest finish at the tournament was a bronze medal at 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men.

Courtesy Canada Basketball

Raptors in desperation mode as another Cavs series sweep looms large


(Toronto, On) The best regular season in franchise history, if this series is any indication so far, will end the way it did last season for the Toronto Raptors.

A second round sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Down 3-0, the top seed in the East looks to stay alive in the series and force a Game 5 at home against the fourth seeded Cavs tonight at 8:30pm at Quicken Loans Arena on TSN (Canada) and TNT (United States). Toronto also looks to end a nine game playoff losing streak against Cleveland.

The Raptors came back from a 17-point second half deficit in game three to tie the game up at 103 with eight seconds to go but James’ floater off the glass at the buzzer gave Cleveland the 105-103 victory, capping off a 16 point fourth quarter from him and a 38 point performance.

Kyle Lowry continued his hot shooting in this series with 27 points in Game 3, shooting 69.2 per cent (9-13) from the field, with 15 of them coming in the final quarter, and also had seven assists.

OG Anunoby scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a huge triple late to tie the game. He has been a revelation in terms of the regular season and playoffs, as he continues to keep defenses honest with his three ball (top 10 in playoff three point percentage with 46.4%) while admirably defending LeBron this series.

DeMar DeRozan looks to bounce back after a rough outing in Game 3 in which he finished with just eight points on 25 per cent shooting from the field (3-12) as he watched the fourth quarter from the bench.

The Raptors made a lineup change in Game 3, putting Fred VanVleet into the starting lineup and moving a struggling Serge Ibaka to the bench. The move seemed to spark Ibaka, who finished the game with 11 points and a game high four blocks. The defensive intensity seemed to click for Toronto in the fourth quarter as they made enough stops, combined with scoring 38 fourth quarter points, to get back into the game.

The culture change on the offensive end has carried over from the regular season into this postseason as the ball is moving. It’s the defensive end, however, that’s been the problem.

Toronto switches a lot, especially on the pick-and-roll, as they look to goad the offense into mid range jumpers, which worked to a degree in the first round against the Washington Wizards.

However, it is the off-ball communication as James and Kevin Love have especially feasted on switches and there have been moments of miscommunication in which guys like Kyle Korver, Jeff Green, and J.R Smith have taken full advantage.

No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit. At this point, though, Toronto is looking to survive for another day.

Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam

Kirby Schepp named Head Coach of Men’s U17 National Team


TORONTO, ON (May 7, 2018) – Canada Basketball is pleased to announce the hiring of Kirby Schepp as Head Coach of the Men’s U17 National Team.

Last month, Schepp led Canada to a historic silver medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.  The medal was Canada’s first in men’s basketball at the Commonwealth Games.  Basketball has only been on the Commonwealth Games program once, at Melbourne 2006 (Canada did not enter teams in the tournament).

“Having the opportunity to represent your country internationally is always a great honour and to have the chance to lead Canada at the 2018 FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup is truly special,” Schepp said.  “I hope we can continue to give our best and brightest young athletes the chance to develop as basketball players and as young men with this incredible experience.”

No stranger to the Canada’s men’s national team program, Schepp has spent the past eight summers representing his country on a variety of teams.  Schepp has been involved in some of Canada’s biggest wins, including last summer’s historic gold medal winning team at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017.  He was also a member of Canada’s bronze medal winning team at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men.

Over the course of his 23 years in coaching, Schepp has been behind the bench for more than 50 different teams and has spent the last nine seasons as the head coach of the Manitoba Bisons.  Since joining Manitoba, the Bisons have qualified for the Canada West playoffs in each of the past four seasons.  The Bisons made back-to-back Canada West Final Four appearances (2016 and 2017) and last season competed in the U SPORTS Men’s Final 8 for the first time since 1986.

Before joining Manitoba, Schepp spent five years as an assistant coach at the University of Winnipeg and has coached high school and club teams for over 15 years. Schepp is trained in Canada Basketball’s train to compete certification and a NCCP certified learning facilitator.

Canada’s youth men are currently ranked 3rd in the world and 2nd in the Americas.

Courtesy Canada Basketball

Another heartbreaker for the Raptors at the hands of LeBron James


(Toronto, On) It seemed like Game 1 all over again, except the teams were switched around. This time, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers who held the lead throughout regulation during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals but a desperate Toronto Raptors team, down two games to none, chipped away until a three pointer from OG Anunoby tied the game at 103 with eight seconds left.

Unlike Game 1, however, last night’s game never went to overtime. And Cleveland can thank LeBron James for that.

James led all scorers with 38 points, including a difficult running fadeaway floater off the glass at the buzzer, as the fourth seeded Cavaliers survived a comeback attempt from the top seeded Raptors, winning 105-103.

Cleveland now pushes Toronto to the brink with a 3-0 series lead as they look to complete the sweep of the Raptors for the second straight year on Monday night at 8:30pm on TSN (Canada) and TNT (United States). No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit.

Kevin Love had his second straight strong outing, with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Kyle Korver hit four triples and scored 18 points while George Hill had 12 and Jeff Green scored 11 off of the bench.

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 27 points, 15 of them coming in the final quarter as the Raptors overcame a 17 point second half deficit. However, DeMar DeRozan struggled mightily in Game 3, scoring just eight points on 3-12 shooting as he was benched in the fourth quarter.

Anunoby continues his remarkable rookie season with a playoff career high 18 points on four made triples, while shouldering the load of guarding James. CJ Miles had 13 points on three triples made while Jonas Valanciunas had another double-double, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Serge Ibaka, who has struggled this series, was benched in favour of Fred VanVleet in an effort to instill some energy on both ends on the floor. Ibaka had a bounce back performance, with 11 points and a game high four blocks, while VanVleet was a team high +14 on the floor.

Toronto’s bench doubled Cleveland’s output (32-16) while beating the Cavaliers in second chance points (19-9), blocks (11-4), rebounding (47-44), and three point shooting (13-9) despite the home team winning the battle in the paint (48-42) and in assists (18-14).

The Raptors once again shot themselves in the foot in terms of taking care of the ball, committing 17 turnovers leading to 18 Cavaliers points.

Toronto couldn’t buy a bucket in the early stages of the game as Cleveland jumped out to a 16-4 lead. Despite the Raptors shooting 30 per cent, however, the visitors cut the lead to 24-19 after the end of one quarter.

The Raptors continued to nip away at the Cavs’ heels throughout much of the second quarter as a driving layup from Anunoby cut the lead to one (39-38). But Cleveland closed out the half on a 16-2 run as a controversial play came when a potential three point play from Ibaka that would’ve cut the lead to seven was called off as the Raptors were down 55-40 at the half.

Toronto came out of intermission on a mission as they opened the second half on a 12-2 run, capped off by three free throws from VanVleet. But just like how the first half ended, Cleveland extended its lead back up to double digits, led by Love’s nine third quarter points, as the home team took a 79-65 lead heading into the final frame.

Toronto then went with Lowry, VanVleet, Anunoby, Miles, and Ibaka to open the fourth quarter to try to get back into the game. It was then that their offensive execution finally showed up as the Raptors scored 38 in the fourth quarter. Along with Lowry’s scoring exploits, Anunoby had 11 in the quarter.

But LeBron kept them at bay for almost the entirety of the quarter, scoring 16 points in the fourth. With 30 seconds to go and up three, James went to the rim and missed on what looked to be a straight contest from Ibaka but, to the fury of the Raptors, ended up being called a foul.

James then split a pair at the line and Lowry responded with a driving layup to trim the deficit to two (102-100). Green was then fouled but he split a pair as well as Miles grabbed the rebound and dribbled it down the court, with no timeouts left for Toronto.

Miles then spotted a streaking Anunoby in transition on the wing, who then pump faked as Green flew by him. The rookie then took a sidestep and calmly drilled the three for the game’s only tie, to the stunned silence from the Quicken Loans Arena fans.

Cleveland then had a chance to win, as they inbounded from the backcourt. James received the ball as he went away from the potential double team and had a running start. With time running out, he faded back with the floater that banked off the glass as time expired, sending the Cleveland crowd into a frenzy and leaving the Raptors team stunned.

Game 4: Monday May 7th at 8:30pm

Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam

Canada Basketball Super Clinic 2018 set for June 8th-10th, 2018 at Brock University

Name: Canada Basketball Super Clinic 2018
When: June 8-10, 2018
Where: Brock University (1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, ON)
Cost: $285 before May 14, $335 after May 14
The Super Clinic is a weekend event that consists of numerous presentations led by experts from around the world, and is filled with learning, sharing, and networking. The Super Clinic gathers a wealth of knowledge for others to learn from – not only specifically about basketball, but also about life-skills such as leadership, psychology, and communication. This one-of-a-kind weekend is great for teachers, coaches, athletes and anyone who is eager to learn.
Contact: Alex Petropolis –
Courtesy Canada Basketball

Game 3 vs Cavs a monumental game in Raptors history


(Toronto, On) This game tonight is technically not a win or go home situation since it is the first team to win four games.

But given that no team in the NBA has ever come back from an 0-3 series deficit, win or go home could very well apply for the Toronto Raptors.

The Eastern Conference Semifinals continue in Cleveland, OH, with tip-off set for 8:30 pm tonight on Sportsnet One (Canada) and ABC (Canada/United States) as the top seeded Raptors look to get back in this series against the fourth seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers head into this game with all the momentum after taking both games at the Air Canada Centre. It is the third straight postseason in which the Cavs have won the first two games in a series against the Raptors.

History doesn’t favour Toronto as LeBron-led teams have been perfect in 21 tries when up 2-0 in a series. Also, the Raptors have never won a postseason game at Quicken Loans Arena and have a current eight game playoff losing streak against the Cavaliers.

James has been nothing short of dominant in this second round so far. He has averaged 34.5 ppg, 13.5 apg, and 9.5 rpg in two games thus far, including a 43 point performance in Game 2.

Stagnant offense down the stretch was the problem in Game 1. The lack of fight was the problem in Game 2. One underlying issue during the two games in Toronto, however, is how the Raptors have defended LeBron.

In Game 1, it was the shooters from Cleveland getting it going after a rough series against the Indiana Pacers in the first round. In Game 2, LeBron fed cutters for repeated backdoor layups off of off the ball screens as Toronto’s defense had no answer whatsoever.

The concerning part is that James has had 27 assists in two games, with just two turnovers committed. That is not a recipe for success to beat Cleveland in this series for Toronto; they simply have to make LeBron more uncomfortable on the offensive end and make him exert some energy on the defensive end to fatigue him.

Despite James’ brilliant shotmaking in the fourth quarter, single coverage on him will be the key to stopping Cleveland’s offense for the rest of this series. It’s one thing having LeBron go off; it’s another thing when guys like Kevin Love, J.R Smith, and Jeff Green join the party as well.

Quite simply, and it’s been said over and over, but Serge Ibaka has to be better. He has shot under 40 per cent in this postseason and needs to leave his mark on both ends for Toronto to have a chance in this series. Also, Toronto has to make shots when needed to and trust their culture change; an encouraging part in this series is that the Raptors had 26 assists in each game in this series.

According to DeMar DeRozan, this team is at its best when they have to fight through adversity. But moral victories don’t count, especially in the postseason. Lose Game 3 and the Raptors are in a position in which no NBA team has ever recovered from.

Win Game 3, however, and this series starts to get interesting again.

Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam

Raptors playoff futility against the Cavs continues in game 2 loss


(Toronto, On) At the end of the third quarter with the Cleveland Cavaliers up 98-87 over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, ESPN play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico says the following.

“We’ll be back to LeBronto in the fourth quarter after this.”

And this was before LeBron James put on a dazzling display of making contested fadeaway jumpers in the final frame. It sure felt like LeBron’s city today.

James led five Cavs players in double figures, finishing with 43 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds as the Cavaliers put a stranglehold in this series, beating the Raptors 128-110, at the Air Canada Centre, to take a 2-0 series lead. The Cavs superstar shot 19 of 28 from the field.

Remember how this was supposed to be a competitive series this time around between the top seeded Raptors and the fourth seeded Cleveland Cavaliers? Yeah, me too.

Now the series shifts south of the border to the Quicken Loans Arena as Cleveland has a chance to take care of their home court and sweep Toronto for the second straight year.

27 of James’ points came in the second half as the Cavaliers shot a scorching 67.5 per cent from the field (27-40) and 57.4 per cent (8-14) from downtown during that time frame, outscoring the Raptors, 67-47.

Kevin Love broke out of his playoff slump in a big way with 31 points and a team high 11 rebounds, J.R Smith (15) and Jeff Green (14) once again had solid performances while George Hill provided a secondary playmaking boost with 13 points.

For Toronto, DeMar DeRozan led the way with 24 points. Kyle Lowry had an efficient 21 points and eight assists, with 18 of them coming in the first half but was hampered by foul trouble in the second half.

Jonas Valanciunas had another double-double, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds while Fred van Vleet dropped 14 off of the bench as the Raptors are left soul-searching after dropping both games in a building where they were 34-7 during the regular season.

Overall, Cleveland shot 59.5 per cent from the field as Toronto’s defense was simply abysmal. They tried to shut off the three point line from the Cavs’ shooters but unfortunately the tradeoff was in the points in the paint column (56) as LeBron consistently found cutters for open layups and dunks.

The Cavaliers hit six more field goals than the Raptors, had a 17-10 advantage at the free throw line, and had 13 points off of 11 Raptor turnovers, while committing just three themselves. Meanwhile, Toronto had 62 points in the paint while hitting 12 triples and dishing out 26 assists.
Cleveland made it known that they were going to get Love involved early as he attempted nine field goals in the first quarter and had 10 points. On the strength of Lowry’s 10 first quarter points on 4-4 from the field, however, Toronto held a 29-26 lead after one.

Lowry and VanVleet each had eight in the second quarter as Toronto shot a red hot 72.2 per cent (13-18) from the field and 62.5 per cent (5-8) from three point land.

They led by as many as nine (56-47) before Cleveland closed out the half on a 14-6 run to trail by only two (63-61) heading into intermission. A controversial play near the end of the first half occurred when Lowry picked up his third foul on a block in what looked to be a charge as James ran over him.

Coming out of halftime, Smith’s three point play gave Cleveland the lead for good as they went on a 20-5 run, which began late in the first half. Led by LeBron’s 15 in the quarter, the Cavs outscored the Raptors, 37-24, in the quarter and shot 72.7 per cent from the field (16-22) as they led 98-87 heading into the fourth quarter.

Cleveland continued their offensive onslaught, scoring the first seven points of the final frame as an exasperated Dwane Casey had to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. And although Toronto cut the lead to a manageable 13 points (109-96) with 7:23 left, the Cavaliers put the game away for good with a 12-2 run as Smith’s triple gave them their largest lead at 23, sending a stunned sellout ACC crowd to the exits.

Aside from the second quarter, in which the ball was humming from side to side leading to nine assists, Toronto simply could not match Cleveland’s offensive output. Let’s face it; allowing 128 points isn’t going to win you many games let alone one.

On the defensive end, communication has been absolutely atrocious as the Cavaliers players have been feasting off of off ball screens while LeBron has the ball with his back to the basket. In their effort to take away the three, they gave up the paint.

Overall, the effort to care about the game, especially in the second half when things got tough, was not there. Quite simply, the Raptors got embarrassed on their home floor.

And somebody also file a missing persons report as well for Serge Ibaka because he has been atrocious, ever since Game 1 of the first round against the Washington Wizards. In the second round itself, he has averaged only 5.5 ppg on a ghastly 23.1 per cent from the field while missing all five of his attempts from behind the arc. He has to be better in order for Toronto to even have a chance of winning this series.

Game 3 will be on Saturday night at 8:30pm on Sportsnet One (Canada) and on ABC (United States/Canada) as the Raptors look to claw their way back into this series.

But if the effort level is anything like it was in the second half last night, it’ll be a short series and a very long offseason for Toronto.

Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam