- The Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
- After struggling early in the playoffs, the Cavaliers seemingly flipped the switch and made quick work of the Raptors.
- The sweep came with a massive benefit as LeBron James, who admitted to being tired one week ago, gets a week of rest before the conference finals begin.
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors, 128-93, on Monday to complete a series sweep in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
After a close first half, the Cavaliers stepped on the gas in the second half, pulling away and expanding their lead to 20-plus points to deflate the Raptors.
The Cavs’ turnaround in the semifinals is jarring when considering just over a week ago they faced elimination against the Indiana Pacers. In that series, the 5th-seed Pacers pushed James and the Cavs to the limit, forcing them to work their hardest just to get out of the first round.
After a Game 7 win in which he played 43 minutes and wanted to go all 48, James told reporters: “I’m burnt right now … I’m ready to go home. I’m tired.”
James had seemingly expended all of his resources to get the Cavs past the Pacers. It raised significant questions about how they’d fare against the first-seed Raptors, especially without home-court advantage.
Instead, James’ teammates stepped up in a big way against the Raptors, getting the help he so desperately needed while playing to his usual high standards. Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Jeff Green, and George Hill each averaged double-digit points per game while shooting efficiently in the second round.
Now, the sweep of the Raptors afford James and the Cavs a much-needed break. James told reports after the game that he was looking forward to the break.
“We’re going to enjoy it a little bit … enjoy the rest over the next couple of days,” James said. “We’ve earned the right to get rest, rest our bodies, recalibrate our mind…”
James had played every other night dating back to Game 5 of the Pacers series. That’s seven games in 13 days, or as The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd put it, 283 minutes, almost five hours, of basketball for James. Even he needs a break.
As one league source familiar with the Cavs put it before the playoffs: “He’s so blessed physically that if you give him a day off, or, God forbid, you give him two days off, you can’t deal with the guy.”
The Eastern Conference Finals won’t start until at least Sunday. James will get a full five days of rest before pushing for four more wins to make the Finals for an eighth straight year.
More NBA Playoffs coverage:
- NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill explained why he likes the playoffs schedule that many think is too long
- The Warriors busted out their ‘Death’ lineup to start a game for the first time in 2 years, and it was devastating
- JJ Redick had to reschedule his GMAT exams after the Sixers made the playoffs
- Charles Barkley apologized to Draymond Green after speaking with an eclectic group of mentors
- The Cavs’ game plan includes $100 fines for players who commit a specific defensive mistake and it paid off in Game 1