CLEVELAND – Almost two weeks before Monday night, when the Cavaliers ended Semifinals in the Eastern Conference on an unexpected round of the Toronto Raptors it a moment, maybe helped to change the course of the franchise's postseason.
It was in the first round, just moments after LeBron James had set the NBA world on fire with a buzzer-beating, game-winning, good-shooting three-pointer. Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue and his co-coach Larry Drew were deep in the Quicken Loans Arena discussing the physical, aggressive defense of the Pacers, which could have easily steered the series in the other direction. Drew and Lue took turns, alternately surprised and impressed as they tried to formulate plans to get their fighting role-players to find a comfort zone.
The big men of the pacer were dynamic in flushing the Cavs 4s and 5s of the paint. Their wings had no problem changing the Cleveland role-players and forcing them to beat them. However, the Pacers did not know that they were preparing a Cavaliers team that was largely assembled in mid-February for what was expected later in the postseason.
Cleveland's roller coaster season moved to a seven-game victory in the first round In a series, it was even surpassed by 40 points. The Raptors, however, tended upwards. After years of their season, James, Toronto, who in the regular season both offensively and defensively in the NBA belonged to the top 5 ended this spring finally as an opportunity. Instead, the Cavaliers No. 4 on Monday night gave their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 123-98 victory, ending the Raptors.
"We talked later in the year This long season is about getting better and getting involved in the playoffs," Lue said after the win. "We get a lot of contributions from many different guys, and to prepare for this Indiana series, I've prepared them for this series, the physicality, the ball pressure really helped us get into this series." [19659004ThePacerswaresLeBronJamesShowAsJames'40-pointtriple-doublerattleanothermemberoftheCavaliersbrokethroughthe20-pointborderlineresultinginalotofcriticismandevena Saturday Night Live sketch. James, who has a superhuman performance in the playoffs, is an annual event, but in the first round he had to worry about the long-term sustainability of the approach. Against the Raptors, however, the Cavaliers finally showed some signs of cohesion.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press
"At the end of the day, a series will only win if you win four" James said. "Personally, my self-confidence never wavered, I believe in what I can bring to the table and what I can give our team, and I believe in my teammates." Since all of my teammates were alive in this first round, I have Me went on to tell them, "Listen, we can not win without … anyone who can do their job and be as good as possible." I continue to preach that. It's impossible for me to trust our ball club No matter what is at stake or if we're down, if we do that, where do we go as a team? "
While The series included their share of James Heroics – a game in Game 1 and one Another buzzerschlagenden game winner in Game 3 fell away. The series saw much better production from those who did not call LeBron.
We were able to prepare more and more and really try to do and neutralize what they want to do to be successful. "James said:
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The 4 @cavs starters, who were not named LeBron James, shot down 71% from the ground in Game 4, which is the best FG pct none of the other 4 starters in a LeBron James Playoff team
No player on the Cleveland roster saw a bigger turnaround than Kevin Love, who fought powerfully against the Pacers' flexible bigs after point guard George Hill retreated Lue demanded a truckload of 1-5 pick-and-rolls for most of the first round with back problems, and love blossomed, averaging 25.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the last three games against the Raptors. 19659003] "It was a learning experience for a number of players in this team," said Love. "They did not have much common playoff experience or even shared time on the ground. The entire Indiana series was great for us. But Game 7 – the fashion we won, just that experience – and then Game 1 This series, which deviated from this deficit, forced them into overtime, took that first advantage in overtime and never looked back, was very meaningful and was a learning experience for our entire team. The changes have not just occurred the offensive end, either: Cleveland entered the post-season ranked 29th in defensive efficiency and has improved slightly in the postseason.More important.You could save the life for the most offensive attack threats to which they were exposed make it difficult.
After a difficult series against the Pacers, Kevin Love recovered in four games on average by more than 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Raptors. Tony Dejak / Associated Press
After bringing Victor Oladipo to 41.7-percent shooting In the first round, the Cavs focused on Toronto's All-Star backcourt and worked on it, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to give the ball out of his hands. The results were surprising. DeRozan was held 21 points in the last two games of the series and Lowry finished Game 4 with just five points.
It is fair to wonder if the Raptors presented cheaper matchups for the Cavaliers than the Pacers and more than they will face in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, a quick poll in the Cleveland locker room suggests that the sweep is more of a team ascent rather than an opponent.
"It's playoff basketball," George Hill said after game 7. "You do not have time to think too much, you just have to play, that's the only thing we need to focus on Worry about matchups, do not worry about who's guarding whom who are having fun. "
Prod a bit further, and the Cavs feel there is more room to improve.
"It's still a learning experience for us," James said. "The good thing is, we have another round to learn each other and try to get better."