There have been three games so far in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and LeBron James has invented a new way to fry the Toronto Raptors in each. The Cleveland star’s buzzer-beating winner at the end of Game 3—a delicate, wrong-footed floater off the glass—was his most absurd recipe yet.
In terms of difficulty, this was preparing fugu fish while riding a unicycle. To charge full speed at the hoop and kiss a bank shot while … you know what, I’ll just let James’ fellow absurd-shot-maker Manu Ginóbili explain. In a tweet, he said, “Qué facilidad para crear distancia de su defensor! De locos! Una belleza de tiro.”
De locos, indeed.
Toronto rookie OG Anunoby, who had hit a 3-pointer to tie the game, actually did a pretty good job against LeBron on the final play. The irony is that his adept defense forced James to make an even greater shot than he otherwise would have taken, and, as a result, the highlight will be remembered and replayed until the sun explodes. For the Raptors, that day can’t come soon enough.
The Raptors have to play at least one more game against LeBron and the Cavs. Given how the series has gone, they might want to send crash-test dummies in their stead. (Either actual dummies, or the Winnipeg-based rock band of the same name. Both would work.) In Game 1, James led Cleveland back from a 14-point deficit, hit a slick jumper to force overtime, and finished with a triple-double.* He also did this, which seems dangerous, without the aid of a parachute, but what do I know?
James took a different route in Game 2, and he seared the Raptors with a barrage of fadeaway jumpers. Thoughts go out to members of the Toronto locker-room staff, who are still trying to OxiClean the grill marks from their jerseys.
We can only imagine what LeBron will do to the Raptors in Game 4 on Monday, but Canadians may want to find something else to watch. Perhaps there’s a Kids in the Hall marathon on? Anything to distract from one of three likely scenarios:
1. LeBron hits a game-winner while he neatly folds and packs the Raptors’ clothes. He does such a good job, there’s now room in their bags for souvenirs. Oh no! The souvenir is the ball he hit the game-winner with.
2. LeBron starts scoring on both baskets to force perpetual overtimes. The additional periods go on for so long, the Raptors’ contracts expire. They are free agents now, and LeBron hires them. This is great news, until they realize that he has hired them just to fire them. They weren’t even on staff long enough for their benefits to kick in.
3. LeBron takes a calligraphy lesson during the game. Toronto players unsuccessfully argue that his tutor can’t be on the court with him. She grabs eight rebounds and scores 17 points—including the game-winner over DeMar DeRozan. LeBron hands out apology letters, and the brushwork is impeccable.
Of course, Toronto could very well win on Monday. Sadly, this would force a Game 5, meaning they’d have to play LeBron yet again. If damage limitation is the goal, that’s a scenario best avoided.
*Correction, May 6, 2018: This piece originally misreported the number of points LeBron James scored in Game 1 against the Raptors.