The Cavs Are Affording the Raptors Absolutely No Respect and It's Kind of Stressing Me Out
LeBron James and the Cavs are absolutely clowning the Raptors.
Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
It's not even close, man. A red line is slowly rising over a black line, more and more as the game goes, the deficit just getting bigger and bigger forever and into eternity. The Cleveland Cavaliers, the presumed front-runner for the Eastern Conference title, coming off a dominant sweep of the Indiana Pacers, are just annihilating the poor, admirable, optimistic Toronto Raptors, who did everything they possibly could to match up this year, and just...can't...fucking...do it. They lost Game 1 by 11 points, and got their doors blown off in a 22-point loss in Game 2 Wednesday night. It's a little depressing.
The most distressing part, if you're a human who can feel proxy emotions for a Canadian basketball team, is that the Cavs really, truly could not give less of a fuck about how thoroughly they are dismantling the Raptors. LeBron James is playing fresh and free, accented ever so slightly with the scent of boredom, notching 35 points in Game 1 and a whopping 39 points in 37 minutes in Game 2. The Cavs seem to think this is a scratch series, easy pickings, a goddamn lemon they're pickin' off the Raps' unguarded fruit tree, and the Raptors have done nothing to dissuade them of that notion.
Watch this nonsense:
Not even a full three minutes into Game 1, in the second round of the dang playoffs, and Kyrie Irving and LeBron are staging full-court off the backboard show dunks! The building loses its fucking mind, signs are waived, a timeout is called, Kyrie marches through the center of the court and lets out a yawp, while poor DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, shit-sticked with the responsibility to cover that nonsense, slink off to the bench with their heads hung low, struck in that moment with the thunderbolt of realization that they might not be ready for this. It's heartbreaking, man!
But LeBron wasn't done. It got less and less dignified for the Raps out there:
In a third-quarter possession, LeBron breezed past Serge Ibaka, got tangled up, tried to score on continuation, just barely missed, got skippy and irritated as he rode his momentum into the crowd, AND TOOK A BEER FROM A SERVER, lifted it to his lips, then GAVE IT BACK TO THE SERVER, like "No, no, I'm not going to drink a beer during this game against the...Raptors, I think? Don't get me wrong, I could throw back a cold one or two and still handle these dudes, but I'm not going to, that would be rude."
Skits! The Cavs are so unconcerned with the moment to moment gristle of this series that LeBron is performing intricate SKITS to stay engaged! He's like a teenaged Corbin Smith in AP American History! J.R. Smith played chuckling sideman to LeBron's Sinatra, the full old-time showbiz experience for the crowd and the audience at home: THE CAVS, LIVE ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE COURT. Meanwhile, the Raps suffer slowly and painfully, the weight of destiny slowly breaking their fragile bones.
And guess what, baby!? Just because Game 2 started didn't mean that LeBron was done clowning dudes.
He squared off against Ibaka, did his goddamn spinning-the-ball free-throw routine as a joke, just to really send home the "Oh it does not matter if you are in front of me—this is, frankly, not unlike taking a free shot with no defenders" vibe of this series. Then, of course, he rose up, and drilled the shot over Ibaka. In case there was any confusion about what was happening here, LeBron came back during the next possession, went to the exact same spot, and nonchalantly drilled ANOTHER shot over the charred husk of the once proud Serge Ibaka.
That this happened to Ibaka really is the symbolic nail right in the Raps skull. Once upon a time, a player like Ibaka—long, good shot blocker, relatively mobile, the kind of guy who can protect the rim and seal off penetration, a Tyson Chandler, Kevin Garnett type—was THE thing that could slow LeBron down, keep him from flipping the fucking table over and ruining any playoff matchup he encountered.
But those days are over, man. Bron is wily now. Try to protect the rim, he takes threes and draws contact (21 free-throw attempts last night!). Try to seal him off, he just powers right by you and goes rumbling at the rim. Your only hope is outgunning him, and unless you're the Warriors, it's hard to imagine you have the bullets. Against the poor, woods-wanderin' Raps, the Hamlet of the NBA has transmuted into Puck, a wily fellow who goofily manipulates everything around him for the sake of mirth and love.