Heck, by the time the Finals start on June 1, the Cavs’ postseason leisure tour could run to 12 work days out of 48. They cautioned us that their stretch-run struggles would be temporary, and with a second consecutive playoff sweep — first Indiana, now Toronto — that’s being borne out.
“The fact that we play our best basketball in the postseason lets us know that we’re up for the challenge,” star forward LeBron James said. “No matter who I’ve faced over the last few years, myself, my teammates and the coaching staff have just tried to raise our abilities, raise our attendance, raise our game plan, raise our attention span to go out and compete every single night, no matter who the competition was.”
There are three major reasons why the Cavs have been able to turn things around with such relative ease in the last five weeks. And the first should be obvious.
Powell shot a blistering 72.7 percent from the field in Game 5, going 8 of 11, including a perfect 4 of 4 from 3-point range. He also connected on all five of his free-throw attempts and added four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Granted, the Raptors had help from others. Serge Ibaka scored 19 and DeMarre Carroll added 12, something he hadn’t done in nearly a month. But on a night when All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan (18) and Kyle Lowry (16) scored more than 15 points below their combined average, it’s safe to say Powell’s play was potentially season-salvaging stuff.
“Every decision you make in the playoffs is difficult. Looking at Kyrie and looking at Kevin, they were like: ‘Let them go. They’re playing well.’
“I had every intention to keep those guys in as long as they were playing well. Kevin and Kyrie didn’t [protest]. That’s what playoff basketball is all about. Guys step up and play well, and you just root those guys on.
“After the game they [Irving and Love] were happy and said: ‘It’s not about us, it’s about the team.’ Not a big deal at all, especially when you come out with the win.”