Let’s get this straight first off: the Raptors were dead the moment LeBron James’s floater went off the backboard and through the net to end Game 3. But at the very least, the number one seed in the East could have put up a fight before packing their bags for summer vacation. Instead, Toronto laid down and accepted defeat in Game 4 tonight, shooting 26.7 percent from three and playing what could only loosely be described as “defense” as the Cavs completed the second-round sweep with a 128-93 win.
LeBron himself, at least in the first half, even seemed content to play this game as just an impeccable sideman, letting his teammates take most of the shots while he just served up assists. But even as King James only scored 10 points in the first two quarters, the Raptors were already out of it, going into the break down 63-47. It only got worse from there, as scoring LeBron came alive to finish with 29 points, falling only two rebounds short of a triple-double in 38 minutes.
The good news for Cleveland, as well, is that a lot of the non-LeBron Cavs suddenly don’t look so worthless. J.R. Smith bounced back from a scoreless Game 3 with 15 points on perfect shooting. Kyle Korver got into double digits for the third time in the series. George Hill is a reliably efficient scorer after missing three games in the first round. And Kevin Love, who picked up 23 tonight, is playing to his full potential as a secondary star.
But whomever the Cavs meet in the conference finals will be infinitely more motivated than the Raptors were with their backs against the wall, and this is the type of loss that should initiate some serious self-evaluation in Toronto. For as well as they’ve played in the regular season, the Lowry/DeRozan era of the Raptors has yet to prove they can be contenders. And while there’s nothing shameful in losing to LeBron on a regular basis, the lack of competitiveness in this particular series is especially disappointing after the team set a new franchise record for wins in the regular season. Worse than the actual final result, though, is the fact that they didn’t even seem to care.