CLEVELAND -- Over the last three weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers have certainly put behind them the struggles of the end of the regular season.
Courtesy of their 109-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 4 of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre Sunday, the Cavaliers earned their way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third consecutive year.
But how were they able to shed the struggles of the regular season and run through the Indiana Pacers and Raptors in just eight games?
“Just continued effort,” Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love said.
“We felt like we had guys with enough experience to know what we’re capable of, and we’re continuing to see that, continuing to do that. The effort was there.”
PHOTOS: Cleveland Cavaliers battle Toronto Raptors in Game 4 of Eastern Conference Semifinals
With Sunday’s win over the Raptors, the Cavaliers became the first team in the 2017 NBA Playoffs to clinch a spot in the conference finals.
Also, 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.
“We just want the effort to continue to be consistent, and continue to play inspired basketball and put together 48 minutes of really good basketball,” Love said.
Point guard Kyrie Irving added, “It matters to us, but the most important thing is you don’t take it for granted. Obviously, there’s a long road still ahead for us. We understand that. We’ve been in this position before, but we understand there’s still a lot to learn, still a lot of things we can correct and get better at.”
And that effort has not been limited to the starting lineup.
Although the Cavaliers have found success in eight straight games, they have done so with different role players coming up with key plays throughout the postseason.
Whether it was power forward Channing Frye burying five three-pointers in the Game 2 win over the Raptors or shooting guard Kyle Korver coming off the bench and going four for six from long range in both Games 3 and 4 against Toronto, the bench has been a key component to Cleveland’s postseason success.
“I don’t want to say we have a totally different team, but we have some different pieces added that make a huge difference for us on both ends of the floor,” Irving said. “We have guys. We can play nine guys a night, 10 guys a night.
“Not many teams can do that, so we take full advantage of that, and that’s all on T-Lue. He does a great job of just managing everybody’s minutes and just going with the flow of the game. When we’re playing like that, as comparative to last year, I think a lot more of the load fell on ‘Bron, me and Kev, but this year, it’s just really distributed well and guys are making plays on both ends of the floor.”