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NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

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TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals 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. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James 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."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

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 Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs 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.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

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.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

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 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 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 3-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 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 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.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.

Sixers' Jimmy Butler and Nets' Jared Dudley fined for roles in Game 4 skirmish

Sixers' Jimmy Butler and Nets' Jared Dudley fined for roles in Game 4 skirmish

Updated: 7:36 p.m. 

Though an executive has been suspended for Game 5 of the Sixers’ first-round series against the Nets — Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks, for entering the referees' locker room following Game 4 — both Jimmy Butler and Jared Dudley will be eligible to play.

Butler has been fined $15,000 for his part in Game 4’s third-quarter melee, while Dudley has been fined $25,000.

It’s hard to argue with the description that Dudley “escalated an on-court incident” by pushing Embiid after he took exception to his Flagrant 1 foul on the Nets’ Jarrett Allen. 

And though it’s difficult to imagine Butler or the Sixers simply accepting Dudley’s shove of their star center, the explanation that Butler “escalated it further” is accurate.

The league seems to be acknowledging Dudley played a more central role in the incident by giving him a larger fine. Unfortunately for the Sixers, both players received equal punishment on Saturday — ejections.

Embiid, appreciative of Butler sticking up for him, told reporters in Brooklyn Saturday night he would pay Butler’s fine. 

Embiid's foul on Allen will stand as a Flagrant 1, ESPN's Tim Bontemps reports. The Sixers' center still has two flagrant foul points in the playoffs and would receive a one-game suspension if he accumulated four points. 

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Nets general manager Sean Marks suspended one game, fined $25,000 for entering referees' locker room after Game 4

Nets general manager Sean Marks suspended one game, fined $25,000 for entering referees' locker room after Game 4

Updated: 7:58 p.m.

The Sixers might have felt aggrieved Saturday after the third-quarter confrontation that resulted in the ejections of Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler, a trade-off that favored the Nets.

But, after the Sixers pulled off a 112-108 Game 4 win without Butler, it was a member of the Nets’ organization who wanted to see the referees.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks has been suspended for Game 5 and fined $25,000 for entering the referees’ locker room after the game, the NBA announced Sunday.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Marks was upset over Joel Embiid's Flagrant 1 fouls in Games 2 and 4 not being adjudged Flagrant 2s. A Flagrant 2 foul is an automatic ejection.

Caris LeVert and Dudley had expressed their displeasure with Embiid laughing as he apologized postgame for his Game 2 elbow to Jarrett Allen's face. Embiid reiterated his apology before Game 3, saying he didn't mean to make light of the situation and that he'd texted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to again let the Nets know he was sorry.

After his foul on Allen in Game 4 that kickstarted the scuffle which resulted in Dudley and Butler's ejections, Embiid immediately pointed to indicate he'd gone for the ball.

While Elton Brand will be watching at Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night as the Sixers look to advance to the second round, Marks will have to watch elsewhere as his team tries to bring the series back to Brooklyn. 

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