Sunday, 20 May, 2018

National Basketball Association play-offs: Cavaliers beat Raptors to reach Eastern Conference finals

LeBron James rises above his opponents to shoot the game-winning bucket for Cleveland LeBron James rises above his opponents to shoot the game-winning bucket for Cleveland
Domingo Copeland | 09 May, 2018, 00:40

The Cavs and the Celtics both hold 3-0 leads in their respective second-round National Basketball Association playoffs series, and both can close out their opponents Monday night with Game 4 wins. "But we've been in all three games, we've had chances to win pretty much all three games, being up in some of the games".

LeBron James didn't need almost the playing time or drama called for in Games 1 and 3.

But their fragility was underscored by a rampant Cleveland on Monday, with James leading a blowout win that ensures they will be well rested for the Eastern Conference finals, where they will play either Boston or Philadelphia.

Toronto will need a bounce-back performance from their top scorer, Demar Derozan, who pulled a disappearing act in Game 3, tallying only eight points and racking up more turnovers (three) than assists (two). That he needed to go into hero mode so many times in the first round to save the Cavaliers could have potentially been a good sign for the Raptors, but unfortunately for them, he just never turned it off. Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Jeff Green, and George Hill each averaged double-digit points per game while shooting efficiently in the second round.

Every angle of LeBron James' iconic game-winner against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, May 5, has been covered in the last 36-plus hours. Whether it was his defense, ability to get to the basket, or finding the open guy offensively, the starting point guard played one of his best games of the postseason Monday night.

Barkley said on TNT: "Psychologically after Game 1, they were done".

"Losing the game, they were still shellshocked in Game 2, they got beat down".

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James has done it at both ends in the waning moments of games all season for a team that has only four holdovers from its 2016 title squad. Toronto's game plan, in their third annual clash with King James and the Cavaliers, went something like this.

Said Casey: "I haven't given up on our team".

With their effectiveness, the starters help lead the Cavs to shoot nearly 60 percent from the floor and 46 percent from three-point range Monday night.

Although James racked up the points in a sweep over the Raptors, the 20-year-old can be proud of his efforts against the Cavs superstar.

"We've had four or five seasons wrapped in one, we know what the narrative has been about our team", said James, who averaged 34 points, 8.3 rebounds and 11.3 assists in the series.

This could mark the third straight season that the Cavs eliminate the Raptors.

Toronto won 59 games in the regular season to finish atop the conference, four games ahead of the Celtics. By the time the SNL skit hit YouTube on Sunday morning, Cleveland already had Toronto on the brink of elimination, so perhaps time isn't the only reason it was cut from Saturday night's show. Love became the fourth player in Cleveland history with 500 career playoff rebounds, joining James, Thompson and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

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