LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers easily advance to the Eastern Conference Finals after earning their fourth straight victory against the Toronto Raptors, 109-102, on Sunday night at Air Canada Centre. After being swept, Raptors star DeMar DeRozan admitted that the outcome will only be different if James is playing on their team.
“If we had LeBron on our team too, we would’ve won,” said an exasperated DeRozan in a post-game interview. “We can say that all day. Time, everything, but we didn’t. It happened. We got swept and it’s going to be one of them long summers for us.”
LeBron James – The King of the Eastern Conference
DeMar DeRozan doesn’t want to give any excuse for what the Raptors suffered in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. No one can argue with his statement as LeBron James dominated the East for six straight seasons. Any playoff team that would acquire James will undoubtedly rule their respective conference. The Cavaliers, who were criticized for their dismal performance in the final games of the 2016-17 NBA regular season, showed that there’s nothing to worry as long as “The King” is on their team.
Despite improving their roster, the Raptors still have no answer for James. The Cavaliers star has been unstoppable in their matchup against the Raptors, averaging 36 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and one block per game. He shot 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc.
After sweeping the Raptors, the Cavaliers will have plenty of time to rest and prepare for the Eastern Conference Finals. When asked which team he preferred to face next, LeBron James said it doesn’t matter whether they face the Boston Celtics or the Washington Wizards.
”It’s rewarding when you can advance,” James said. ”It’s not just given to you, you have to go out and earn it. Once again I’m part of a team that’s been able to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s going to be my ninth time in 14 years. I’ll take those numbers.”
What’s next for the Toronto Raptors?
After losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Raptors will now focus in the upcoming offseason. They need to decide if they will keep their current roster or not. Bringing back the same group will put them least $30 million over the luxury tax.
This will be not a practical move for a noncontender team like the Raptors. Re-signing incoming free agents Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka will be a no-brainer. However, they must consider letting go some of their players and look for other pieces who can help them become a better team.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr
Video courtesy: Youtube/Ximo Pierto