The Toronto Raptors have ruined what could have been a fun Eastern Conference Finals between Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron’s former team the Miami Heat. The Raptors routed the Heat in the Seventh game of their Eastern Conference semifinals 116-89 on Sunday.
Watching Lebron go to Miami for the conference championship would have been interesting even if the series likely wouldn’t have been very competitive. The Heat has only one if its “Big Three” from their championship run of four seasons while Lebron was their. Chris Bosh has had an injury-riddled two seasons since James went back to Cleveland to “win one for the ‘Land.”
With only Dwayne Wade left from the Heat’s two-time championship team, they are nowhere near the same squad. Wade and Udonis Haslem are aging. Mike Miller, “Bird Man” Chris Anderson, Mario Chalmers and James are gone. Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng have been nice additions, but they don’t make up for losing Lebron and Bosh, who the Heat fears may be done after his latest injury.
The Cavs and Raptors may set records for low TV ratings for an Eastern Conference Finals. Most fans assume the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder is for the NBA Championship. Most fans probably couldn’t name the Raptors starting five. Toronto doesn’t get a lot of TV time in the States, neither from ESPN or TNT.
They have had to go seven games in both of their playoff series so far, beating the Indiana Pacers and the Heat to get to Lebron and the Cavs. The Cavs have yet to lose a playoff game this year. This series promises to be over quickly.
Does Toronto have any shot to win this series? No. But, neither did Miami. In fact, whatever team went up against the Cavs was going to be swept. But at least we would have gotten to see how the fans of Miami would have reacted to Lebron “taking his talents back to South Beach” and thumping his old team.
When Lebron left Cleveland for Miami six years ago, Cleveland fans reacted with a city-wide temper tantrum that included name-calling, jersey-burning, cursing-his-name, fits from everyone including the team’s owner, Dan Snyder. The reaction in Miami when he went back to Cleveland was more of a subdued “we’re going to miss you and all these Finals trips” kind of thing.
It’s possible Lebron might have gotten cheers form the Heat crowd in the Eastern Conference Finals on the road. But thanks to the Raptors, we won’t get to find out.