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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports activities’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down LeBron James’ buzzer-beater that lifted the Cavs over the Raptors and the errors that doomed the 76ers in opposition to the Celtics.
USA TODAY Sports activities

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James, and the Toronto Raptors don’t.

Distilled to its essence, that’s the variation within the Japanese Convention semifinal sequence between the 2 groups.

No trainer within the East is aware of that higher than Dwane Casey, whose Raptors misplaced to the Cavs within the 2016 convention finals, the 2017 convention semifinals, and are down Three-Zero this time round after shedding 105-103 on Saturday.

In every other iconic second, James hit a working floater off the glass as time expired to present the Cavs the victory. It was once James’ 2nd game-winning shot on the buzzer of those playoffs. His three-pointer in opposition to Indiana in Recreation five gave Cleveland a Three-2 sequence lead.

James had 38 issues, seven assists, six rebounds and 3 steals, main the Cavs to their 9th consecutive playoff victory over the Raptors. On this sequence, each loss has been extra deflating for Toronto than the former one.

“It jogs my memory of again within the days of getting to recover from the hurdle of (Michael) Jordan,” Casey mentioned sooner than Recreation Three. “One day, you’ve were given to recover from that hurdle, you’ve were given to knock it down, you’ve were given to knock the wall down.

“It’s a an identical state of affairs we’re with Cleveland. I at all times return to what number of years is that this with LeBron going to the (NBA) Finals, 8? So, there’s a large number of different groups that experience long gone via this gauntlet and we’ve were given to move via it and that’s what we’re looking to do and going to do.”

Casey and his Raptors are at the verge of being swept after incomes the highest seed within the East with a franchise-record 59 victories. No staff has ever come again from a Three-Zero deficit to win a playoff sequence. 

Causes for the Cavs’ victory …

James’ persisted excellence

Within the sequence, James is averaging 35.7 issues, 11.Three assists and eight.Three rebounds and taking pictures 53.6% from the sphere.

He has scored no less than 30 issues in 104 playoff video games – simply 5 in the back of Jordan. James additionally has led the Cavaliers in issues and assists in 11 consecutive playoff video games, passing Oscar Robertson for the longest streak in NBA playoff historical past.

Bear in mind: James is crushing the Raptors along with his within recreation and mid-range assault. He has taken simply 15 three-pointers, making 3.

Taking good care of the ball

The Cavs had 5 turnovers in Recreation 1, 3 in Recreation 2 and 10 in Recreation Three.

When Cleveland isn’t turning the ball over, trainer Ty Lue mentioned, “that’s generally a just right signal for us. Both we’re going to make pictures, but in addition extra importantly, we get an opportunity to get again and get our protection set. After we flip the basketball over, we will be able to’t get again.”

James, who averaged four.2 turnovers right through the common season, has simply six turnovers in 3 video games.

In the meantime, the Raptors had 17 turnovers in Recreation Three.

Kevin Love’s resurgence

Love struggled within the seven-game sequence in opposition to Indiana and within the first recreation in opposition to Toronto. However he adopted his 31-point Recreation 2 efficiency with 21 issues and 16 rebounds in Recreation Three.

Love has balked at enjoying heart, who prefer time at energy ahead, his herbal place. However with Love on the 5, it is helping create mismatches for the Cavs to take advantage of.

“I do know that every so often he doesn’t like enjoying the 5, however he understands that’s what’s highest for our staff,” Lue mentioned. “He understands that and he desires to win. Despite the fact that every so often it’s difficult, after we’re profitable and (he’s) enjoying the best way he’s in a position to enjoying the 5, he enjoys it. … He understands he has to sacrifice enjoying the 5 on this sequence and it’s large for us.”

Toronto’s lineup alternate

Looking for solutions, Casey inserted Fred VanVleet into the beginning lineup rather than Serge Ibaka, who was once a tad at an advantage the bench with 11 issues, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.

However VanVleet made simply two of his 9 pictures, and All-Superstar DeMar DeRozan went Three-for-12 and was once a minus-23. He didn’t play within the fourth quarter because the Raptors made a overdue push.

Kyle Lowry had a team-high 27 issues, together with 15 within the fourth quarter through which Toronto outscored Cleveland 38-26 and tied the sport at 103 with eight.eight seconds left.

Apply USA TODAY Sports activities’ Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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