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October 19 2017, 11:47 | Van Peters
0:26Play Le Bron James continues to move up the playoff record book
Coming into this series off three straight wins over the Milwaukee Bucks, it was the only time over four consecutive post-seasons in which the Raptors had played up to their ability, had seen their stars perform well and had quelled the concerns about whether this group could win in the playoffs.
We'll have up-to-the-minute scoring and stats here throughout the game. Valanciunas scored 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting, but that is a trade-off the Cavaliers will take.
James finished with 39 points on just 14 shots, shooting 21 free throws and going 4-of-6 from long distance. The losses, coupled with James' dominance (and showboating), have the Raptors feeling a little down. "I'm just blessed. I'm taking advantage of the opportunity that I've been given". "We were in the same position previous year".
"When we lost by 30 here past year (in Game 2), everyone knocked us and said it was over with". They're a good team.
To understand the gravity of this team, let's look at the Warriors roster even further.
For instance, in last year's finals, it wasn't James who hit the big shots to close out the series in game seven - it was Kyrie Irving, hitting a dagger on Klay Thompson.
James is the only player in National Basketball Association playoff history to rank in the top 10 in points (second, 5,777), rebounds (seventh, 1,813) and assists (third, 1,392).
Game 3 is set for Friday at 7:00 pm in Toronto and short of a miracle this feels like a potential sweep in the making.
"You find somebody to stop LeBron in these moments, I'll give you $100", DeRozan told reporters after Toronto's Game 2 loss. If he wins this year, that would be another pair of back-to-back championship seasons for him. Kyle Lowry erupted for 35 against Irving in Game 4. Toronto only got five points from All-Star DeMar DeRozan, who didn't make his first field goal until the first minute of the fourth quarter. Raptors coach Dwane Casey said "honestly, we can't" survive if DeRozan doesn't get back to scoring in bushels. "We said it all past year, said it in the offseason, and because of injuries, he didn't get much of a rhythm for the regular season. They played great, (but) we haven't scratched the surface of where we can go".
James took hold of the bottle, pretended to take a sip, then handed the bottle back to the server as play resumed.
The Cavs don't care who's to blame; they'll keep bending their defense to stop Lowry and DeRozan because they know Toronto doesn't pass well enough to consistently punish them.
The next day, James and his advisers went on the offensive after Great Lakes Brewing Co. retweeted a photo of the by-now viral image. "I believe in our guys, and I know there is another level we can get to". One of those factors is enough to lose a game; two is enough to lose by 22. We did what we was supposed to do. But I love playing out on the road more than I love playing at home.
Of course, when the Raptors did tie the series in the conference finals, James hardly blinked.
Is Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan really a superstar? The Eastern finals aren't going to start until the following weekend, at the earliest.
You could also talk about how we may have reached the once unfathomable point as a sports culture where LeBron James has become under-appreciated. It happens, but it's not the greatest thing on which to hang one's hopes.