Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James not trying to “cheat the game gods” by focusing on sweep of Toronto Raptors
CLEVELAND – Having already played nine games in 19 days to open up the 2018 playoffs, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James says that he won’t allow himself to start thinking about a sweep of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals in the hopes of securing some rest before the next round.
“You can’t fast track the process,” James said after shootaround Saturday morning. “We got to prepare … and then we got to go out and win it in between the lines. But there’s no fast tracking the process where you say, ‘OK, let’s try to end this thing so we can get some rest.’ You do that and you get a lot of rest. You do that and you can be home (for the summer) and end up losing 4-2. So, that ain’t it. No. You don’t do that. You don’t cheat the game gods. I’ve never been a part of that.”
The Cavs, up 2-0 on the Raptors after a dominant 128-110 win in Game 2, are in the driver’s seat to advance, if not even sweep. Of the 26 teams to ever start a playoff series off 2-0 on the road in NBA history, 22 of them went on to advance to the next round.
And James and the rest of Cleveland’s roster – having the oldest average age of any of the 16 teams to make the playoffs this spring – could use a break.
James, 33, is averaging 41.8 minutes per game this postseason, tying him for the league lead in playoff minutes per game with Oklahoma City’s Paul George, who is not only six years younger than James, but no longer carrying that burden as the Thunder were eliminated in six games in the first round.
The four-time MVP is doing his best to ramp up his recovery on the fly. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the night before Game 2, James slept a full nine hours – a rarity for him – and he also used cupping therapy on his shoulders, a practice he hadn’t turned to in years.
James said that being back in Cleveland, even if the Cavs still only had one day off in between Thursday’s Game 2 and Saturday’s Game 3, has helped his recovery process.
“It’s an added advantage because you’re back home to everything that you’re accustomed to, including your home,” James said. “You have an opportunity to sleep in your own bed, get your own facility treatments and all those things. Able to fast-track that a little bit better.”
While James has done whatever he can to improve his body as the series shifts to Cleveland, he is also looking for continued improvement from his team.
“We still got some work to do,” James said. “I think we’re playing some good ball. I think more than anything through these first nine games of the postseason, defensively we’ve been pretty good. Last game we allowed them to shoot high in the 50s. We’re not happy about that. We got to do a better job of that. But in the fourth quarter we was able to lock down. Well, in the third quarter we was able to lock down, more importantly, where we’ve kind of struggled in the past. So, defensively, I feel like we’re clicking. We want to try to continue that offensively and we can continue to get better.”