Toronto Raptors: Don’t be fooled by LeBron’s comments

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Lebron James
TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Lebron James /

No matter what LeBron James says publicly, the Toronto Raptors are in for one titanic struggle if they hope to advance to the Eastern Finals.

Whether you’re a coach, player, fan or casual observer, you know what stands between the Toronto Raptors and the Easten Conference Finals. To advance, they must deal with one of the greatest athletes in NBA — and professional sports – history; LeBron James.

At this point, you may be wondering why you’ve just put yourself through one of the most obvious statements you’ll ever read. Simply put, because of comments James made on Sunday.

The 14-time NBA All-Star was asked about the upcoming series with the Raptors and he discussed how he is feeling. As reported by Sportsnet‘s Dave Zarum, he said: “I’m burnt right now. I want to go home.”

The comments were entirely understandable, given he was coming off a tiring seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers. However, this is LeBron James we’re talking about.

Yes, there’s no denying the three-time NBA Champion pretty much carried his teammates against the Pacers. He led the Cavaliers in points (34.4), assists (7.7) and rebounds (10.0).

To put this in perspective, consider that Kevin Love was second on the team with 11.4 points, while George Hill was second with two assists. The only category where there wasn’t a huge disparity was rebounds, with Love hauling in 9.3 boards per contest.

James also averaged 41.1 minutes per game. For comparison, as per Zarum, high-minute/energy players Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis averaged 39 and 37.8 minutes per contest, during the first round of the playoffs.

Regardless, James’ words shouldn’t be taken too seriously. He has a history of embellishment, almost as if he wants to make his successes even more sensational/dramatic, even though there is actually no need for this.

Really, this season is no different to any other for the 33-year-old. He is attempting to make the NBA Finals for a barely believable seventh consecutive season.

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Understandably, some people will point towards James’ age, together with the fact this was the first time he played in all 82 regular season games. However, consider that he also averaged the third-lowest average minutes per game in his 15-year career.

And even the wear and tear argument is somewhat dubious, in what was conceivably his best ever individual season. The three-time NBA Finals MVP averaged the highest rebound and assist numbers per 36 minutes of his career, along with his joint-third highest scoring total per game.

One thing which James did mention, which could play a huge factor, is the Raptors’ bench. Again reported by Zarum, he said:

"“They’re a great basketball team. They’ve got 10-12 guys that can come in & produce every single night. We know the head of the snake is (DeMar) DeRozan and (Kyle) Lowry but those guys off the bench come in with the same attitude & the same confidence as the starters.”"

In fairness to James, he’s right about this. We know the Toronto Raptors have the strongest depth in the NBA, and that’s before you even compare it to the Cavaliers.

In that respect, yes, the Akron, Ohio native will likely have to carry the load for the Cavaliers once again, during the upcoming series. As such, he will likely feel emotionally and physically drained as the games tally up.

Ultimately though, do you really believe James won’t be up to the task and capable of knocking the Raptors out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season? We didn’t think so, as much as there would be no issue with being proven wrong on this occasion.

Next: 3 things Raptors must do to advance past Cavs

As we prepare for arguably the most important series in franchise history, where’s your confidence level at? Is this the season the Toronto Raptors finally vanquish the Cavaliers, or will it be more of the same. Tell us which way you’re learning and why in the comments section below.