The beloved Cleveland Cavaliers began the Eastern Conference Finals as such a prohibitive favorite to dismiss the energy strained Toronto Raptors that the question was not a matter of if, by rather a matter of when.
Would it be another four game sweep? Five games at the most, right?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dogs and cats, deer’s and squirrels, if it does happen it will be at the least six games after the Raptors rose from the dead to go north and take two straight on their home court.
The Raptors looked like a tired basketball team when last seen at the Q, and they should have been after two grueling rounds of seven game series.
However, when they got home it was an entirely different story. Easily defeating the Cavs in Game 3 and cruising in game 4 until a late Cavs rally came of short, hodling on for a 105-99 victory.
How the Cavs respond to game 5 at the Q on May 25 could be critical, because now all of the pressure has shifted to LeBron James locker room.
There are some Cavs fans don’t appear to be the least bit worried about
Kyle Lowry’s 35-point outburst, including a driving layup in the final minute of game 4 or DeMar DeRozan’s robust 32 point masterpiece.
The Raptors have something to rely on the Cavs don’t, and that’s having overcome adversity in the post season.
That game 3 against the Hawks in the semis seemed like a leap year ago, and there was ample opportunities for the Cavs to show their grit and win in game 4, but in the end, they missed shots, failed to secure rebounds and lost.
No matter what happens the rest of the way in yet another championship or bust Cavs season, nobody can blame LeBron James.
James has again been the most consistent and stable of all of the Cavs.
He’s averaging 24 points per game in the playoffs, is among the top five leaders in assist with 7 and steals with 2.
Kyrie Irving, as brilliant as he can be on occasion, still has not sustained their ability throughout. While he’s averaging a playoff 9th best 23.9 points per game, he is being taken to school by Lowery.
Kevin Love, the third spoke in the wheel, is bending, crumbling and folding right before our Wine and Gold eyes.
No one can doubt that Love is an exceptional player, but he’s getting all of the touches he can dream of and is only averaging 16.4 points in the post season. Did you see that dunk attempt blocked by Bismack Biyombo?
"We've been counted out, and we like that challenge," DeRozan said.
The Raptors had lost two games against the Cavs by a combined 72 points.
"We have to continue to make sure that when they punch, we punch back," Lowry said. "And if they punch three times, we punch four times."
The Raptors are 2-6 on the road in the playoffs.
After a 10-0 start to these playoffs, the Cavaliers are counting on home court advantage to help them reach their second straight Finals.
"Going back home we have to play a lot better and I think we will," LeBron James said.
Cleveland lost consecutive playoff games to an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time since dropping the final three games of the conference semifinals to Boston in 2010.
"We had a few defensive breakdowns that you can't have down the stretch of a game, especially in the playoffs," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "They executed every time we made a mistake."
"It's a cakewalk for me when (Lowry) gets going," DeRozan said. "It opens up everything."
Lue said there is no concern with Love’s health despite his absence in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Monday.
Love appeared to be bothered by his knee as the third quarter came to an end, as he hobbled over to the bench after the buzzer. He didn't take the floor the entirety of the fourth quarter, as Lue opted to go with three-point ace Channing Frye, who scored 12 points, including four three-pointers in the game. While Lue assures Love's status for Game 5 is nothing to worry about.
Worry, Cavs, Fans worry ? For 50 years, oh yeah its always a time to worry.