One game on from what he described was his worst game all season, LeBron James came out on Thursday night and effectively killed off the Toronto Raptors’ hopes of moving on in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Cavaliers main man took matters into his own hands with one of the finest performances in an individual quarter. He had 43 overall, but that third quarter is the one that everyone is talking about.
The multiple time MVP scored 15 points in that period, on 70% shooting, to take over the game and help his Cavs pull away from the Raptors. His fade away jumpers will be on highlight reels for years to come, prompting many to restart the debate over whether he or Jordan were better in their day. Nonetheless, that quarter alone took the Cavs from being down two at the half to being up by 11 when the fourth quarter began. That 13 point swing was massive, and it has now led the Cavs to lead the series 2-0 with both victories coming on the Raptors’ floor.
To put that into perspective, the Cavs were right around .500 when on the road all season long. That made many doubt their chances in these playoffs, but the world’s best player has had other ideas. He’s put them on his back in this game, and now they can wrap up the series back in Cleveland with a couple of wins and take a few days off ahead of a potential meeting with the Boston Celtics, assuming the Celts don’t also sweep the Philadelphia 76ers.
James wasn’t alone of course, in performing well against the Raptors, with the much-maligned Kevin Love contributing with 31 points of his own. While this series is far from over, judging by this showing it certainly is. Stats show that 94% of teams that go up 2-0 end up advancing. That gives the Raptors, who were the top seeded team in the east, a very minuscule chance of moving on. It has happened in the past, but it has been by teams that have big time stars, and none of them did it against LeBron.