Yep, James owns the Raptors.
LeBron James knows the Toronto Raptors well after dispatching them from the NBA Playoffs in each of the past three seasons. So well, in fact, he can call out the plays head coach Dwane Casey was going to run before his team could actually run them.
Ex-Cavaliers general manager David Griffin told The Ringer’s Bill Simmons about how James knew exactly what play the Raptors would throw at him during the 2017 playoffs. He even knew where forward Patrick Patterson, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was supposed to be on the court in order to set a pick for guard DeMar DeRozan. As a result, Cleveland swept Toronto out of the playoffs — just like they did in 2018, as well.
Here’s what Griffin had to say, transcribed via Reddit:
There’s literally nothing you can show him that he can’t do. There’s no play you’ll run against him he can’t name, and then go out there and teach your players how to do it better than anyone else [can teach them] … I was in the gym when I watched him on the floor against Toronto [in 2017] tell Patrick Patterson where he was supposed to go on the play they had called out of a timeout late in the fourth quarter! He was like ‘no Pat, you’re supposed to stand over there and set a pin down [pick] for DeMar over here’.
That’s … absurd. James’ physical gifts have set him apart from 99 percent of basketball players, but its his preparation and focus are what make him a .001 percent specimen on the court. He’s used that knowledge to make himself the thorn in the Raptors’ side, derailing the franchise’s postseason hopes in each of the last three seasons. James is 12-2 against Toronto in the playoffs in his NBA career, a figure that includes a current run of 10 straight wins.
If NBCA coach of the year Casey returns to the Raptors’ sideline next season — and that’s no guarantee — he’ll have to come up with a few new plays for when he meets James in 2018-19. Maybe that way he’ll be able to come up with a postseason win over the three-time MVP for the first time since 2016.
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