LeBron James doesn’t prolong the inevitable.
The last seven times that James’ teams have had a 3-0 lead in a playoff series, the matchup has ended in the most humane fashion — a sweep. He gets a chance at another today, when Cleveland can oust Toronto and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
That’s one of three Game 4s on today’s NBA playoff slate: Boston and Washington continue their bruising series with the Celtics leading that East semifinal matchup 2-1, and San Antonio — which proved Friday it won’t buckle easily after losing Tony Parker for the season — will look to go up 3-1 in its West semifinal series against Houston.
Those Celtics-Wizards and Spurs-Rockets matchups look like they might last awhile.
The Cavaliers-Raptors one, not so much.
History says it’s over: No NBA team has wasted a 3-0 series lead, James has never coughed up as much as a 2-0 series lead, and even if the Raptors get injured point guard Kyle Lowry (ankle) back for today he surely won’t be anywhere near his best.
Going back to last season’s rally in the NBA Finals, the Cavs have won 10 consecutive playoff games, three shy of the NBA record set by the Los Angeles Lakers over the 1988 and 1989 postseasons.
And James is making it look easy — 34.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game so far in these playoffs, on 57 percent shooting. Such a stat line has never been done by anyone over the course of an entire postseason.
Need to know
James’ teams are 79-20 vs. the East over the last seven postseasons, and he’s just 176 points shy of passing Michael Jordan for the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring record. Cleveland has won every game in the series by double digits, and even though DeMar DeRozan was great in Game 3 (37 points), the Raptors just didn’t have enough to keep it close.
Keep an eye on
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has the scoring numbers in these playoffs (23.3 per game), but his shooting is just under 40 percent. Confidence isn’t exactly an issue for Uncle Drew, but the Cavs wouldn’t mind seeing him improve on the 7-for-20 performance that he’s averaged over the last five games.
Pressure is on
Nobody. Toronto is playing for pride. Cleveland is playing for a longer rest.
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