In a must-win game with their season on the line, the Raptors were eviscerated. The Celtics lead their series, 3-1, with Game 5 set for May 9 in Boston. "They've built a very good team that can succeed in the postseason". Still the Cavaliers led 24-19 at the end of a first quarter that saw Love collect six points and eight rebounds. "I had to get open".
"It's disappointing", he added. "But you don't want to go down that way, let go of the rope".
"They can't really double-team because one shot can lose you the game, and you give up a wide-open look, most likely you're not going to like the results of that", James said. He was only Cleveland's fourth-leading scorer: Smith and Korver combined for 28 points and 6-of-6 shooting on 3s in the first half. They tied it at 103 on a 3-pointer by OG Anunoby, setting the stage for heroics by James.
Lowry said Toronto still has some fight left. The fact of the matter is we're out, we're done.
"There's a breaking point we all have", Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. Kyle Lowry led the way for Toronto's ferocious comeback as his All-Star teammate watched from the sidelines. All series long, James controlled every element of the game with alarming ease.
"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", he said.
LeBron James Deserves Reverence, Even If He Leaves Cleveland
They've dug themselves a hole that very few teams are able to get out of, that no team has ever gotten out of against James. The Rockets' Luc Mbah a Moute returned in Game 1 from the dislocated right shoulder he sustained last month.
DeRozan was ejected for a cheap shot on Clarkson in the third quarter. Love scored nine straight Cleveland points, including two free throws that accounted for a 77-61 edge.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: James' choice to wear a Seagram's 7 whiskey cap to his postgame news conference was interesting. The Cavs have beaten Toronto in 10 straight playoff games. As Cleveland stumbled through roster changes and Boston became increasingly hobbled by injury, the Raptors claimed a spot among the league's truly elite teams and the path to an elusive Finals appearance felt clearer than ever. The Raptors were 4-of-15 from 3-point range. We feel like he's going to make the plays.
Cleveland swept Toronto in the Eastern semifinals last season and 4-2 in the East final in 2016.
All that's to say the Cavs are now just 12 minutes away from completing a sweep of the Raptors - their second in as many years - and advancing to their fourth straight Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto couldn't handle the Cavs quickness and toughness. Miles also slotted into the starting five with VanVleet back on the bench. DeRozan had seven in the first quarter.
Jonas Valanciunas was a notable beacon of resistance, providing 18 points off the bench. He exited for good with 7:38 remaining and the Cavs up 30.
The Raptors rank ninth in fast break points per game (13.3) while the Cavaliers rank 13th in fast break points allowed per game (11.6). Nogueira failed to convert a lob, blew a defensive assignment and committed a turnover - he was minus-10 in 1:51 - as the Cavs went up 63-47 at halftime.
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Then it got ugly.
James was asked about having the mental edge against Toronto in the postseason and deflected in his response.
History is not on Toronto's side.
The Celtics now lead the series 3-0. Toronto is now in an embarrassing 0-3 deficit in their series despite being the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference. There is also the endless discussion of how Cleveland owns Toronto in the playoffs. If talk radio is an accurate barometer, many fans expected a quick exit because they were inconsistent in the regular season. And the guys, we're getting a lot of different contributions from a lot of guys.
They still haven't, which means a harsh spotlight may shine on Casey.
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He was also the first Dutch scorer in a Champions League semi-final since 2013, when Arjen Robben netted for Bayern Munich. Two late goals from Radja Nainggolan secured victory for the hosts on the night, but Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate.
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