As the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Canada for Sunday morning’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors – live on SuperSport -, everything seems to be going according to the plan for LeBron James and his crew.
Not only are the Cavaliers 2-0 up, but they are playing consistent and dominant basketball.
Ten wins in as many games in this postseason prove how eager the Cavaliers are to compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
If they win in Toronto – where they lost two of their three regular-season meetings against the Raptors – the Cavaliers will extend their playoff winning streak to 11 games.
For a team that reached the NBA Finals last season, despite playing without injured Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love – two key pieces for the Cavaliers – they are on the verge of returning to the Finals yet again.
And, although Irving is leading the team in scoring with 26.5 points in the series, four-time NBA MVP James has turned into a facilitator, dishing out a team-high 7.5 assists per contest while averaging 23 points.
In Thursday’s 108-89 win, James, who is playing his sixth straight Eastern Conference Finals, recorded his 15th career playoff triple-double.
Even though the Cavaliers look favourite to close out the best-of-seven series in four games, James is expecting a tough Raptors opposition.
He said after Game 2: “We have to be much better, obviously, in Game 3, going into a very hostile environment, going in there where they’re extremely loud. They play well, they play faster. But we’ve enjoyed the process to this point, and once we got to it, we’ve tried to take care of business, and then once it’s over, we want to learn from that instance and move on and see how we can get better the next time.”
Despite playing so many East Finals, James is yet to win an NBA title with his hometown Cavaliers.
Although the 31-year-old forward won two titles with Miami (2012 and 2013), he has fallen short the last two seasons.
This time round, he and his Cavaliers peers feel they are ready to knock down whoever comes their way.
“As far as my body, I’ve been telling guys all year, this is the best I’ve felt in a while,” James said. “I’ve been able to do things outside of the game that kind of help me, and then when I get to the game, obviously you have two guys [Irving and Kevin Love] like this to help you. It takes a lot of everything off of you when you have two All-Stars that can do great things.”
Meanwhile, Raptors playmaker Kyle Lowry insists that playing in front of their fans gives the series a different dimension.
“I think we’ll be better at home,” Lowry said. “We’re supposed to be better at home, so I think we’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity. We’re down 2-0, but we haven’t been on our home floor yet.”
Toronto is 6-2 at home in the playoffs after going 32-9 at Air Canada Centre in the regular season.