They didn't need to be in Game 1. James got nine hours of sleep and was doing nearly nonstop recovery methods during the time he was awake. In 2016, Cleveland beat Toronto in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals before sweeping the Raptors in last year's conference semifinals.
The Raptors did none of that in the third.
James was a wrecking ball, just two days after a 26-point triple-double performance that he called "probably one of my worst games of the season".
Kevin Love (31 points, 11 rebounds) also came up big for the Cavaliers. Lowry led Toronto with eight assists. They allowed an average of 103.9 points in regular season play, placing them seventh overall. He's here because he spaces the floor and shoots the three with a lightning-quick release and, over his career, he has been better at it than anyone else in a Toronto uniform. But he said that, after watching film of the Raptors, he was confident he would be able to hit those shots based on mismatches with Toronto defenders.
The series started for real in the second quarter.
"Serge hasn't been himself", Casey acknowledged. "What do you say?" "I didn't play well".
It's just not going to happen and until it does happen, I'll never think it will go down.
Still Valanciunas saw little gap between the two teams on Tuesday in the 113-112 overtime loss, and plenty of reason to believe.
Aztecs' Rashaad Penny drafted by Seahawks in first round of NFL Draft
Watching the draft along with his family and friends, Penny broke down when he received the call that he'd be heading to Seattle. During that season Dissly caught 55 passes for 917 yards and 11 touchdowns. "That makes such a difference when defending him".
The Raptors committed 14 turnovers for 21 points; the Cavs committed just six turnovers for four points - a huge difference.
In Game 1, LeBron was more effective as a distributer than a shooter.
A key to the disparity in 3-point shooting can be seen in the quality of the shot attempts. Turns out that was only talk. The Raptors led by as many as nine but were only up 63-61 at the break.
"One thing you have is pride", Casey said. Marcus Smart had the best luck in slowing Simmons and Sixers; in 12 possessions Simmons went scoreless, while the Sixers scored just 4 points as a team.
"We have confidence going to Game 2 and winning it", said Valanciunas. They padded their league-best record to 19-1 Thursday. In 23 possessions against all other defenders, Rozier had 8 points on a flawless 3-3 shooting, including two more 3-pointers.
Those concerns could reappear as soon as Saturday's Game 3 in Cleveland, but they seem much less significant now.
Cleveland coach Tyrone Lue suggested his team's momentum started with the Game 7 win last Sunday over IN - a statement bounce-back victory after a 34-point loss IN Game 6. "I wasn't a complete basketball player", said James, holding the microphone in his hand as is his post-game want. "We know he'll make shots at some point". Their beloved team had every opportunity to put up the "W" in this game only to find a way to lose out in the end.
The thing is the fight is only going to get tougher from the other side. He formed close relationships with stars like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, and received unequivocal backing and support from Spoelstra both before and after he left Miami. Oops. He didn't quite get that prediction right.
"We will not let our guards down", James promised.