Cavaliers’ dominance of Raptors historically condensed

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Kyle Lowry wore his hat low and looked down, obscuring his eyes. To his left, DeMar DeRozan tried to explain how the Raptors got eliminated by the Cavaliers for the third straight year.

“Maybe they’ve just got our number,” DeRozan said.

It’d be understandable if everyone in Toronto saw Cleveland as uniquely fixated on tormenting them. The Cavs have swept the Raptors the last two years. The year prior, the Cavaliers beat Toronto in the most lopsided six-game series in NBA history.

But the Raptors aren’t alone in getting shut down by LeBron and the Cavs. Toronto has just had the misfortune of experiencing the misery in three straight years without a break.

Here are the longest playoff-game win streaks between franchises, active streaks in wine and inactive streaks in gold:


LeBron and Cleveland hold two of the three 12-game winning streaks over other franchises in NBA history. The Cavs are 12-0 all-time against the Hawks (playing in 2009, 2015, 2016) and have won 12 straight against the Pistons (2007, 2009, 2016).

Both those streaks are active. The next-longest active streak? Cavaliers over Raptors at 10 games.

The only other longer streaks – Lakers over SuperSonics (12 games in 1980, 1987, 1989) and Lakers over Nuggets (11 games in 1985, 1987, 2008, 2009) – were spread over much longer periods of time.

Nobody has been beaten down like Toronto in such short order.

The Raptors are 2-12 against the Cavs in the playoffs the last three years. That’s the worst record in a matchup with another team three straight postseasons, tied with two pre-shot clock rivalries when the first round was much shorter:

Cleveland Cavaliers 12, Toronto Raptors 2 (2016-18)

  • 2016 conference finals: Cavaliers 4, Raptors 2
  • 2017 second round: Cavaliers 4, Raptors 0
  • 2018 second round: Cavaliers 4, Raptors 0

Minneapolis Lakers 6, Indianapolis Olympians 1 (1951-53)

  • 1951 division semifinals: Lakers 2, Olympians 1
  • 1952 division semifinals: Lakers 2, Olympians 0
  • 1953 division semifinals: Lakers 2, Olympians 0

Syracuse Nationals 6, Philadelphia Warriors 1 (1950-52)

  • 1950 division semifinals: Nationals 2, Warriors 0
  • 1951 division semifinals: Nationals 2, Warriors 0
  • 1952 division semifinals: Nationals 2, Warriors 1

Why does this keep happening to Toronto? Well, LeBron is really good. He does this to a lot of Eastern Conference teams.

But the Raptors keep giving him a chance. They have the NBA’s longest active playoff streak in the Eastern Conference at five years. They’re good enough to advance in the playoffs – until they run into Cleveland.

And then it’s all downhill.