CLEVELAND -- As good as the Cleveland Cavaliers have been over the first two rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, they believe there is another level that can be reached after closing out the four-game sweep of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 109-102 win in Game 4 at Air Canada Centre Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to record back-to-back four-game sweeps over the first two rounds of the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The Cavaliers have won 11 straight postseason games dating back to Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals at the Golden State Warriors.
And yet, the players in the locker room understand there is much more to accomplish.
“That was brought to our attention, but we want to keep this thing moving,” power forward Kevin Love said. “We’ll enjoy this win for the next couple days as far as getting our rest and knowing that we did a lot of good things, but we still have another level that we can get to, and we feel like we can get there.”
Cavaliers small forward LeBron James added, “I know exactly what he’s talking about, and we have another level. We’re going to work our habits this week, and we’ll see what happens.”
A late 5-0 run from the Raptors made it a five-point game after the third quarter of play.
The Raptors continued their run at the start the of the fourth quarter when forward P.J. Tucker came out and buried a three-pointer on their second possession of the period. One minute later, reserve point guard Fred VanVleet knocked down a triple of his own.
However, the Cavaliers responded with a three pointer from James and a two-point shot from center Tristan Thompson. Shooting guard Iman Shumpert preserved the four-point advantage heading into the media timeout when he blocked a shot from guard DeMar DeRozan.
“We have to kick it into another gear at that point, especially during a close-out game,” shooting guard J.R Smith said. “You never want to give a team hope for anything. We know that from being down, 3-1. Regardless of if you’re down, 3-0, or up, 3-0 or 3-1, you just don’t want to give any team any hope."
Although the Raptors took a lead when forward Serge Ibaka converted a three-point play, the advantage did not last long, as the Cavaliers went on a 14-2 run and never looked back.
Irving keyed the rally when he buried a step-back three-pointer and followed up with four free throws, as well as two driving shots in the lane. Irving scored 11 straight fourth-quarter points to put the Cavaliers back in front.
“We won this series, and there’s some things we can clean up offensively as far as ball movement throughout the course of the game, get to our spots a lot sooner, and then, defensively, just communicating a little bit more,” James said.
“We had a lot of possessions where we just weren’t there as we should be, like there as soon as the ball was swung. We have another level, and we believe we can get there.”