By Frank Pingue
TORONTO (Reuters) – Cleveland Cavaliers ahead LeBron James delivered a masterclass on Thursday that left the dispirited Toronto Raptors questioning if there was something they might do to decelerate the sport’s biggest participant.
So dominant was the three-times NBA champion at instances throughout a stellar second half efficiency in Game Two of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, it appeared nearly as if he was experimenting with tough photographs only for the enjoyable of it.
“That drains you mentally and physically,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey advised reporters.
“He was having one of those nights but we have to keep the scoreboard moving as much as possible at the other end.”
James scored a game-high 43 factors to energy the Cavaliers to a 128-110 victory over the Raptors and a 2-Zero lead within the best-of-seven collection, which shifts to Cleveland for the subsequent two video games.
It was an all-too acquainted script for a Toronto crew that has been eradicated from the NBA playoffs the final two years by the hands of James and the Cavaliers, together with a four-game sweep in final season’s convention semi-finals.
This Toronto crew had increased hopes of overcoming their earlier playoff shortcomings, although, after altering their strategy this season with a extra balanced assault and an efficient bench that helped them end high seed within the Eastern Conference.
Toronto now face a tall order in Cleveland, the place they’re Zero-5 in postseason appearances and will likely be determined for a win on Saturday as no NBA crew has efficiently recovered from being down Zero-Three in a best-of-seven playoff collection.
“We thrive off adversity, every single guy on this team,” mentioned Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who had a team-high 24 factors.
“We’ve been in tough situations before and, you know, sometimes when you’re put in tough situations, that is what brings out the best in you and that’s what point we are at now.”
The Raptors received off to a good begin and led by as many as 9 factors at one level in the course of the second quarter however additionally they struggled defensively and limped into the half main by simply two factors over a Cavaliers crew that have been smelling blood.
From there, Cleveland opened the second half with an 18-5 run and by no means appeared again as they stepped on the Raptors’ collective throat to take complete management of the collection.
For his half, James mentioned he and his crew mate weren’t about to get complacent although they’re heading residence with a cushty collection lead.
“We will not put our guard down, I won’t, so that will trickle down to everybody else,” mentioned James, who additionally had 14 assists and eight rebounds.
“We’re not satisfied. We came to play some good basketball up here and we look forward to more of a challenge.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue, modifying by Nick Mulvenney)