Everything was going so smoothly for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason until they had to visit the Air Canada Centre for games three and four in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tyronn Lue's men had been on a tear in the playoffs after winning their opening 10 games and scoring over 100 points in each of their outings.
However, they failed to crack 100 points in consecutive games for the first time in more than 20 months - a span of 27 games - following the road trips to the Toronto Raptors.
Counting the regular season, the Raptors and Cavs have played eight times and the home team is undefeated in all of those meetings. After taking a 3-2 series lead following the 78-116 demolition of the Canadian franchise at the Quicken Loans Arena in game five, the Cavs now must emerge victorious from game six at the Raptors' home to avoid taking the series to seven games.
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Unsurprisingly, Lue believes his franchise player, LeBron James, will be vital to their potential success. He insists that if James asserts himself early, the rest of the Cavaliers will fall in line.
"He has to be very assertive," Lue said Thursday before the team flew to Toronto. "He has to set the tone early and the rest of the guys will follow."
King James has a somewhat different outlook. The 31-year-old is one of the best all-around players in the league today and has long been considered a natural floor general. The former Miami Heat man doesn't believe he has to take over a game for the Cavs to win as his side are stacked with plenty of assets.
"We didn't get to this point in our season by me taking over every game, James said. "My presence on the floor is much bigger than what numbers talk about. When you have a young superstar like [Irving], you have Kevin, who's a superstar as well, and they've helped us get to this point, so you don't just throw in the kitchen sink because we lose two games or we didn't play as well as we could. There may be a time when I may have to have one of those big games, but until then, just relax."
Speaking of Irving, the Australian-born point guard says their shortcomings in games three and four really have prepared them for what's to come in game six; the Cavaliers are better equipped than ever.
"Those two games in Toronto were probably my first legitimate two road games that I've experienced in my playoff career," Irving said. "Our communication, everything had to be a lot sharper, and we took a lot that we had to learn from that game, including myself.
"I know I probably wasn't the only guy that felt that way. ... Going into Game 6, I feel a little bit more prepared than I was going into Games 3 and 4 of knowing what to expect, what it's going to be like, what to expect from my teammates and what to demand from them as well."