34 points. 17 assists. 7 rebounds. 0 turnovers.
LeBron etched himself another spot in history last night. He became the first player to score 35-plus points and dish out 15-plus assists with 0 turnovers since the NBA started recording turnovers in the 1977-1978 season. This performance is another prime example of why LeBron is the Greatest of All Time. He continues to shatter these long-standing records and compile ridiculous stat lines every single night. It’s the middle of March and this man is in his 15th year in the league, yet he’s still playing at the highest level he possibly can.
In the grand scheme of things, did this one game really matter? No. LeBron even said that himself after the game. With 11 games left, there’s no turning the regular season around, it’s essentially over. The Raptors will most likely remain the one-seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs. The Cavs aren’t jumping Boston or the Raptors for a higher seed.
Since a loss would hardly change their current standing, the Cavs could’ve easily rolled over after allowing 79 points in the first half. Headlined by Boston homers Paul Pierce and Bill Simmons, members of the media relished the opportunity to take shots at the Cavs during halftime. Being down 15 points to one of the best teams in the league, combined with missing four key players, that lead would be insurmountable to most. That’s not the case when you have the best player in the world leading your team.
Even though this loss will not knock the Raptors from the top of the Eastern Conference standings, there are no moral victories here. This must be absolutely soul crushing for them. The Raptors have desperately tried for years to shake the stigma of being a team that crumbles when it matters most. They’ve tried to disprove the notion that their team is built only for the regular season. This was their opportunity to showcase on national TV that they finally have what it takes defeat LeBron James in the playoffs.
They couldn’t do it.
The deficiencies spotlighted all season on why the Raptors cannot be successful in the playoffs came to fruition in the second half. Their deep bench doesn’t translate against a team playing their starters for most of the game; the young talent couldn’t match up against seasoned veterans and their stars struggled in crunch time. Most importantly, though, it showed once again that they still do not have an answer for LeBron James.
In his postgame press conference, LeBron’s quote, “I don’t need to remind anyone what my teams are capable of doing,” stood out to me the most. It’s amazing because that’s exactly what this game did. For most people, this season, their talk in regards to the Cavs has primarily revolved around why the team is finished, where LeBron is going next and what changes need to be made after this year. Unless you’re a Cleveland fan (or a smart person), the focus has hardly been about what LeBron and this team can do in the playoffs.
This game should serve as a reminder to everyone that it doesn’t matter what seed the Cavs are coming into the playoffs, how few games the team played together completely healthy or anything else that’s been said about them. As long as they Cavs have LeBron James, they are the favorites to return to the NBA Finals.