LEBRON James has done it again.
For the second time in these NBA Playoffs, the four-time MVP hit a buzzer beating game winner, lifting his Cleveland Cavaliers to a 105-103 win over the Toronto Raptors.
The Cavaliers now have a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, with a chance to sweep the Raptors on Tuesday (AEST).
A three-pointer from OG Anunoby tied the game at 103-103, with 8.0 seconds to play, setting the scene for James’ heroics. James dribbled the ball down the court, and hit a one-legged, one-handed runner off the glass, sealing the victory at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs ran and mobbed James and moments later he was back up on the scorer’s table — just like after a game-winner against Indiana last round — to celebrate a win that was up for grabs.
James finished with 38 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in the win, while Kevin Love posted 21 points and 16 rebounds in his most productive performance of the postseason.
WATCH LEBRON’S EPIC GAME WINNER BELOW!
For the Raptors, the No. 1 seed in the East, Kyle Lowry led the way with 27 points and seven assists. DeMar DeRozan had just eight points, on 3-of-12 shooting, but played just 28 minutes as Dwane Casey decided to sit his star guard for much of the second half.
After winning two games in Canada, the Cavs came home and won a brawl with the Raptors, who just can’t beat James. He’s 11-2 against Toronto in the past three postseasons.
The three-time champion has ended the Raptors’ past two seasons, and despite playing with a different supporting cast, James is one win from a Toronto trifecta.
We The North? He The North.
Game 4 is Monday night, and the odds are stacked against the rattled Raptors. Of the 129 teams in NBA history to fall behind 3-0, none has come back to win.
This was supposed to be the Raptors season, the one that ended in triumph over James. Toronto had the East’s best record, the No. 1 seed, home-court advantage and a Cleveland team that appeared very beatable.
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But the Cavs stole Game 1 by a point in overtime, and James scored 43 in a magnificent Game 2 performance.
He then delivered a series-and-season ending dagger with another moment that belongs with any in his remarkable career.
The first half ended in frustration for the Raptors with DeRozan, coach Dwane Casey and his assistants screaming at the officials following a sequence that went against them.
Serge Ibaka’s basket was originally counted and then waved off by the referees, and the reversal was doubly painful as Love buried a 3-pointer to put the Cavs ahead by 13. Jeff Green’s layup just before the horn made it 55-40 and an incensed Casey, his suit coat flying open and his tie jumping off his chest, stormed off the floor.
Desperate to find something, anything, to slow down the Cavs, Casey changed his starting lineup for Game 3. He inserted 6-foot guard Fred VanVleet and benched forward Serge Ibaka, going with a smaller lineup to push the pace.
However, Toronto started 2 of 11 from the field and the Raptors were quickly down 12 and seemingly in big trouble when DeRozan picked up his second foul and went to the bench.