CLEVELAND - LeBron James said he felt like critics were "burying my teammates alive" in the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs, but after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Toronto Raptors with a 128-93 Game 4 win Monday to reach the Eastern Conference finals, he and the so-called "Other Cavaliers" got the last laugh.
"We have one more game", said Casey, perhaps stating the inevitable. Not to mention, two game-winning shots.So it's hard to make the argument that's coming next, but, through three games in the postseason, members of the Cavs' organization felt James wasn't engaged the way he usually is during the playoffs.
Time is running out for the Raptors, down 3-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
After Toronto grabbed the rebound, the Raptors stormed down the court, with OG Anunoby fooling his defender with a pump fake before hitting a phenomenal three to tie the game.
Kevin Love, who struggled in a seven-game scrap with in in the first round, had another solid game with 23 points.
But can the Toronto Raptors avoid being knocked out for a fourth straight year?
The matchup was LeBron's 42nd playoff series and the first he has ever won without having a single teammate contributing 20 or more points in a single game.
Isaiah Thomas, who overcame the death of his younger sister to help the Celtics to last year's conference finals before injuring his hip in Game 2 against the Cavs, was one of the key pieces in that Irving trade. "I was terrible in Game 1 and they picked it up for me". James put on a clinic in a Game 2 blowout.
With mind-blowing ease, James can take over a quarter, a game, a series, a season and make it his own. He said that things just don't go right for them when Toronto plays Cleveland.
You just don't expect it to go down like that.
With a supporting cast firing on all cylinders, the Cavs are an altogether more risky teams than when they rely exclusively on LeBron.
"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. LeBron James put up impressive stats, including 29 points and 11 assists.
For starters, the Cavs starters have meshed into a wonderful two-way group that is playing both ends of the floor with equal efficiency.
Lue himself couldn't have scripted a better first two series to prepare his team for Boston (probably).
A lot of talk on why this Raptors team is different from the ones in past years was their bench. Won their 15th straight second-round game dating to the 2015 playoffs. They overhauled their entire system and philosophy, earned the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history, finished the regular season with a top-five offense and defense and it just didn't matter.