In the days after the Cleveland Cavaliers' 18-point win in Toronto Thursday night, a game that gave the reigning Eastern Conference champions a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series, LeBron James still wasn't satisfied.He pointed to the team's shoddy defensive showing in Game 2 and believed the Cavs needed to be much better Saturday night.Message received.Against the Raptors, a quality night on defense starts with containing All-Star DeMar DeRozan, the top name on Cleveland's defensive scouting report and the spark plug of Toronto's typically explosive offense that ranked third in the National Basketball Association this season, behind just Houston and Golden State.The Cavs did more than contain him Saturday. He drove the length of the floor, headed slightly to the left of the lane and smoothly kissed the midrange jumper off the glass. In Game 3 of the Cavs' Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup against the Toronto Raptors, the four-time MVP went with a shot that is extremely unfamiliar to him when the moment demanded zero errors from himself.
"The ability to have different things in my toolbox and the repertoire that I have, throughout the game I can kind of go through those", said James, explaining the shot. "Like the LeBron shot, I'm nearly at a loss for words". Love has struggled from beyond the arc but he was able to have his way in the mid-range and paint in Game 3.
In games and during practice, his teammates have seen the best of LeBron. The series is now 2-1 in favour of Golden State, but the Pelicans have another home game and anything can happen in New Orleans where they are undefeated (3-0) in the postseason.
After a back-and-forth final quarter where both teams shared the lead on numerous occasions, Boston looked to have secured the win after a costly turnover from J.J. Redick led to a transition layup from Jaylen Brown with just 1.7 seconds on the clock to put them up by two. Their season - and perhaps Casey's job - is on the line Monday in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena.
James finished with 38 points, Kevin Love added 21 and 16 rebounds and Kyle Korver 18 for the Cavs, who can sweep the Raptors for the second straight year.
I don't think he meant it in an ominous way, but it was a prescient observation nonetheless. I gotta give a lot of credit to George Hill.
But while James has hit some incredible shots - three of his five postseason buzzer-beaters have been 3-pointers - his most recent was arguably his toughest to make.
The Raptors also got a very underwhelming performance from star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who only had eight points on 3-of-12 shooting in 28 minutes.
Turning Point - In a game that had exactly one tie and zero lead-changes, it's hard to pick a clear turning point aside from LeBron's buzzer-beating histrionics.
Horford had "just" 13 points on the night, but when the team needed big plays he was there.
On the other side of the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors played well, at least on the offense side, for a first half. "At some point you've got to get over that hurdle, you've got to knock it down, you've got to knock the wall down.".
By the Numbers - 792, 123 ... "LeBron got exhausted and needed to come out, probably two minutes more than when we wanted to give him".
But Toronto's defensive lapses haven't just been caused by the hazard of trying to stop a team led by James, a unique offensive force.
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