CLEVELAND — Breathe a little easier, Cleveland.
The Cavaliers restored a sense of order to these wild NBA playoffs — and a calm to their fretful fans — with a 116-78 win over Toronto on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
After leaving behind its game at customs in two losses in Canada, Cleveland regained its championship look in its most lopsided playoff win in franchise history.
A reawakened Kevin Love and the Cavs opened a 31-point halftime lead and only rubbed it in from there, moving within one win of a second straight trip to the NBA finals.
Game 6 is Friday in Toronto.
Cleveland could do little wrong. Love had 25 points, and James and Kyrie Irving each scored 23 — and that was despite the starters sitting most of the second half as a raucous crowd at Quicken Loans Arena rocked into the night.
“We were ready for this moment,” James said. ”And our crowd was ready for this moment.”
No one was more ready than Love, who was coming off his worst two-game stretch in six seasons.
The three-time All-Star forward had a total of 13 points and 11 rebounds in Games 3 and 4 and, adding injury to insult, missed the fourth quarter of Cleveland’s loss Monday night after stepping on a referee’s foot.
Love displayed no enduring effects from his tweaked knee and all of his dynamic offensive game.
He scored inside on the Cavs’ first possession, then promptly hit a 3-pointer in transition.
Love headed into halftime with 19 points on 6-of-6 shooting, leading a Big Three — along with James and Irving — that outscored Toronto 43-34 by themselves in the first half.
“That’s Kevin Love being Kevin Love,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “He had two bad shooting games and we made a big deal out of it. Nothing he does amazes me. We’ve got to keep him aggressive all the time.”
Cleveland led 65-34 at the half — the biggest halftime lead in conference finals history — and built its advantage to 43 midway through the fourth quarter.
By the end, as fans danced and “Cleveland Rocks” blared from the speakers at Quicken Loans Arena, it was hard to remember the night began with so much tension.
After Cleveland rocked the Raptors by a combined 50 points in the first two games, its back-to-back losses in Toronto left many fans in this tortured sports city — and, truthfully, the NBA — fearing the worst.
It would have been just Cleveland’s fortune for both powerhouse teams in the Western Conference to be vanquished from the playoffs — only for the Cavs to fall short of the finals.
(The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the 67-win Spurs in the West semifinals and lead the 73-win Warriors 3-1 in the conference finals.)
But players are not fans.
Inside the Cleveland locker room beforehand, the relaxed scene hardly betrayed the stakes of a near-must-win game.
James welcomed the first crossroads of a mostly stress-free postseason run.
“There’s just a sense of calmness,” James said. “That’s all. Just a very calm moment for myself, personally. I relish this opportunity to be a part of the postseason once again, to be 2-2 on my home floor.”
And it showed.
Playing with an urgent edge on both ends, Cleveland turned a 20-16 lead into another home runaway with a 45-15 run.
Everyone who no-showed in Toronto came ready, including Love but also Tristan Thompson, who had nine points, 10 rebounds, and outplayed center Bismack Biyombo.
The Raptors’ super sub, who remained in the starting lineup despite the return of Jonas Valanciunas from an ankle injury, finished with seven points and four rebounds — or 22 fewer than he pulled down in Game 3.
Raptors All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry also endured tough nights after toying with Cleveland in Toronto. DeRozan had 14 points, and Lowry scored 13.
The Cavs shot 57.1 percent (44-of-77), including 47.6 percent from beyond the arc (10-of-21).
Toronto shot 39.1 percent (27-of-69).