LeBron, Cavaliers back in familiar territory

LeBron, Cavaliers back in familiar territory

LeBron James has been playing some of the best postseason basketball of his entire career through two NBA playoff series, sweeping both the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors while averaging 34.4 points per game through eight games. "There's desperation at their end and desperation at our end".

James scored 35 points, Kyrie Irving added 27 and Cleveland swept Toronto, beating the Raptors 109-102 on Sunday to give James his seventh consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

"The closeout game is always tough", Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. The Cavs took advantage of DeMar DeRozan's reliance on the midrange game to squeeze Toronto into tight spaces, and Dwane Casey took a little too long to adjust to the pace of the series with his lineup combinations.

There are the decisions about the restricted free agents - Kyle Lowry who missed his second game with a sprained left ankle, Serge Ibaka, Tucker and Patrick Patterson. Lowry knew the Raptors' season was over after they lost Game 3 on Friday night, and he was feeling existential afterwards.

"But without that experience I wouldn't be where I am today". I thought the guys played with grit, toughness, togetherness.

The Cavaliers and Warriors - again - look like they're on a crash-course to meet again in the NBA Finals.

"You're going to have to have very flexible defenders", Casey said, "and you're going to have score 117, 118 points a night". An early 11-point lead was whittled to a tie game by the time the first quarter was over, and a tight second quarter was blown open by a confluence of events.

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But Irving responded with 11 straight points to put the Cavs up by eight, then James drained a three over Tucker with 2:54 to play that capped a 14-2 Cavs run.

Listen, DeMar DeRozan was being sarcastic when he said, "If we had LeBron on our team, we would have won", but his implied assessment of LeBron James - he of six straight NBA Finals appearances and counting - and his impact on this series was not wrong.

"I will be opting out and that's as far as I've gotten", Lowry said as the Raptors wrapped up the season that ended with Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Casey "helped me be me, a better man, a better basketball player", said Lowry. We came out with a lot of pride, a lot of grit, a lot of toughness, that never-quit attitude. Still, Kyrie finished the game with nine assists and just one turnover.

In Game 4, Korver was the X-factor for the Cavaliers, hitting 6-of-8 from three-point range en route to 18 points off the bench.

"More shooters", DeRozan said. It's going to take some of his best handiwork yet to get the Raptors moving in the right direction, because right now they are not. All the while, Cleveland will be watching film, working on things they can do against either team, and getting some well-earned rest.

"They have good players, even without Kyle", Lue added.

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