INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — A devout student of the game, LeBron James understands that history says the Cavaliers will likely eliminate the Raptors.
The Toronto test isn’t over.
“We still got some work to do,” he said.
By winning Games 1 and 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal on the road, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in position to eliminate the Raptors for the third straight postseason. The Cavs have won eight straight playoff games over top-seeded Toronto heading into Saturday night’s Game 3.
The Cavs are 15-0 in the playoffs when they’ve opened a 2-0 lead. James, a three-time champion, has an even more impressive mark – 21-0 when winning the first two games.
But while the past points to Cleveland eventually moving into the conference finals against Boston or Philadelphia, James knows better than to rush things.
“There’s no fast-tracking the process where you say, `OK, let’s try to end this thing so we can get some rest,”‘ he said following the team’s morning shootaround. “You do that and you get a lot of rest. You do that and you can be home and end up losing 4-2. So, that ain’t it. No, you don’t do that. You don’t cheat the game gods. I’ve never been a part of that.”
James is coming off a 43-point performance in Game 2, when he demoralized the Raptors with fadeaway jumpers that were virtually indefensible. He’s having perhaps his finest playoff run, averaging 34.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 41.8 minutes.
Pushed to seven games in the opening round by the Indiana Pacers, the Cavs entered their series with Toronto as underdogs. But once again, they’re controlling the Raptors who know beating James four times in five games will take everything they have.
“It’s 0-2 period,” Toronto forward C.J. Miles said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not me disrespecting the guy. You don’t want to be down 0-2 to anybody. It’s unfortunate; especially looking at the fact we had 59 wins and were one of the best home teams in the league. You don’t see that coming from us on our home floor, which is why it’s disappointing, especially the second game, not being able to do what we wanted to do.
“We are where we are now.”