In what was as close to a must-win for Toronto as possible without it technically being a do-or-die game, the Raptors felt the full wrath of James, who stomped on their hopes at the Air Canada Centre with 43 points and 14 assists in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 128-110 win.
It was the first 40-point, 14-assist effort in playoff history and it was fitting it came on Toronto’s home floor, where James has owned the Raptors with five straight postseason victories.
This is the risk Toronto ran when they couldn’t take advantage of an inefficient shooting night by James in the series opener, when he was 12-of-30 from the field.
In Game 2, LeBron was simply on and when that’s the case, there’s no defence in the world that can slow down the best player on Earth.
James shot 19-of-28, including 7-of-11 on fadeaways which he utilised often in the second half with great success.
Raptors forward OG Anunoby wasn’t nearly as effective guarding James as he was in Game 1, when LeBron had 17 points, six assists and shot 8-of-19 in 48 possessions.
With Anunoby on him in Game 2, James had 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while dishing 11 assists in 41 possessions.
Pascal Siakam, who defended James the second-most of any Raptors player, fared no better as he allowed 17 points on 7-of-9 from the field in 19 possessions.
LeBron tonight:— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 4, 2018
6 of 9 in isolation
6 of 7 out of pick and roll
3 of 6 in the post
2 of 2 in transition
1 of 1 in spot-up
While James was unsurprisingly phenomenal, the Cavaliers received an encouraging performance from Kevin Love, who woke up to have 31 points, 11 rebounds and shot 11-of-21 overall. Prior to Game 2, Love was averaging just 10.9 points on 31.9 per cent shooting.
The Cavaliers have everything working in their favour as the series moves to Cleveland, which means Toronto are in danger of suffering a sweep at the hands of James and Co for a second straight year.
Falling in the second round to a team that has consistently been a roadblock for them would be enough of a failure, but if the Raptors get swept, they’ll have to take a hard look in the mirror in the offseason after making such little progress following a promising campaign.
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