LeBron James has perfected a signature Adidas Vincent Trocheck Jersey , soul-crushing shot that also seems to describe what’s happening again to the Toronto Raptors.

The fadeaway.

With cold-blooded precision, James worked the 24-second shot clock down to single digits before sinking one fadeaway after the next in Game 2 on Thursday night, each swish pushing the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference closer to ending a season that was supposed to conclude differently.

Instead, it’s a replay: another Raptors extinction is expected.

Back from LeBronto, as some have nicknamed Canada’s multi-cultural metropolis, James and the Cavaliers – featuring a rejuvenated Kevin Love – will host Game 3 on Saturday night. They look to tighten their stranglehold on a semifinal series that has gotten away from the Raptors.

In the East’s other semifinal, the Philadelphia Sixers are trusting their process – and that Ben Simmons will shake off a horrible performance in Game 2 – before they fall into their own 3-0 hole against a Boston Celtics team that added a spectacular comeback to a season of overcoming long odds. Boston wiped out Philly’s 22-point lead on Thursday to open a 2-0 lead.

For the Raptors, this is all so familiar, so painful.

They insist that the magnificent James, who has won eight straight playoff games against the Raptors and eliminated Toronto from the past two postseasons, is not in their heads. That’s what the Raptors are saying; they might not believe it.

After James dropped shots and jaws with 43 points on 28 shots with 14 assists and eight rebounds in Game 2, All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan insisted the Raptors will fight back.

”It’s the first one to win four,” he said. ”It’s not over.”

History begs to differ.

James is 21-0 in playoff series in which he has held a 2-0 lead, and the 33-year-old seems intent on dispatching the Raptors for a third straight postseason and maybe get to his eighth straight Finals.

”When he retires Vikings Mike Hughes Jersey , that’s what you admire what he’s done,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. ”Right now he’s the enemy and we’ve got to do a better job of not being part of history. We’ve got to make LeBron work harder for his catches and work harder for some of his possessions. You’ve got to live with something. Some of those shots are indefensible.”

A closer look at Saturday’s games:

CELTICS AT 76ERS

Boston leads 2-0. Game 3, 5 p.m. EDT, ESPN

NEED TO KNOW

The Sixers are headed back to the Wells Fargo Center where they won 30 regular-season games and two more in a first-round playoff series over Miami. Philly won a franchise-record 16 straight games to close the season, so a comeback isn’t totally out of reach. But history – and a Celtics team clicking – is working against the Sixers. Boston has won all 36 playoff series when it has a 2-0 lead.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Simmons. He was a leading contender for rookie of the year and a regular threat to notch a triple-double. But where was he in Game 2 when he failed to score a field goal for the first time? Simmons said he was ”overthinking.” Perhaps his mind was racing from Boston’s physical defense, which kept him from driving to the basket and forced him into five turnovers.

INJURY UPDATE

Jaylen Brown returned to the Celtics after sitting out the opener with a strained right hamstring. He came off the bench and played 25 minutes, scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds.

PRESSURE IS ON

Sixers coach Brett Brown. The playoffs are about adjustments and he needs to make one to free Simmons from Boston’s defensive clutches. If Simmons continues to struggle, Brown may have to stick with backup point guard T.J. McConnell, who sparked the Sixers with eight points, five assists and two steals in 17 minutes of Game 2.



RAPTORS AT CAVALIERS

Cleveland leads 2-0. Game 5, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

NEED TO KNOW

James continues to ascend and astound. He’s averaging 34.4 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 41.7 minutes in his 13th postseason. He has led Cleveland in points and assists in 10 consecutive playoff games Jake Lamb Jersey , tying Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson for the longest such streak in postseason history.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Toronto’s defense on James and Love, who scored 31 in Game 2. Casey has to try something new to slow down James because nothing is working. His ability to post up creates a dilemma: guard him with one player and he gets to the rim; double-team him and risk him finding an open teammate for an uncontested shot.

The Raptors need to force some mistakes after the Cavs had a franchise playoff record-low three turnovers in Game 2.

INJURY UPDATE

Both teams are relatively healthy.

PRESSURE IS ON

DeRozan and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. They’ve spent the past two years chasing and not catching James. The only way for the Raptors not to be considered pretenders again is for them to dethrone King James and they’re running out of time.

WASHINGTON — The name of the arena has changed since the last time the Toronto Raptors visited the Washington Wizards in the playoffs.

That is not all.

Three years after getting swept by the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs — with the final two games coming at then Verizon Center — the Raptors roll into Capital One Arena on Friday night with a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series.

“We had some tough experiences out there, especially in the playoffs, right?” Jonas Valanciunas told the Toronto Sun after Thursday’s practice.

In 2015, the No. 5 Wizards — led by veteran Paul Pierce — pulled off a what was a mild upset of the No. 4 Raptors, closing out the series with a 31-point rout.

This time out, the No. 8 Wizards, who played a large chunk of the season without point guard John Wall, were again thought capable of upsetting the now top-seeded Raptors, but haven’t shown evidence of that.

Toronto, meanwhile, appears comfortable being the hunted and are up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time in their history.

“A few years ago, we had to have that (underdog) mentality, that chip on our shoulder mentality Authentic Marquis Haynes Jersey , or else,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told the Toronto Globe and Mail. “So we’re growing, I think our guys are developing a mental toughness that you have to have to be the favorite.”

The Raptors ensured the Wizards wouldn’t steal a game in Toronto by exploiting Washington’s defense for seven 3-pointers and 44 points in the first quarter of Tuesday night’s 130-119 victory. Washington, which trailed by as many as 23, pulled within 113-108 in fourth quarter before Toronto unleashed a 19-4 run.

DeMar DeRozan scored a career postseason-best 37 points on 14-of-23 shooting as Toronto shot 51.7 percent from the floor. Valanciunas added 19 points and 14 rebounds.

“We are shooting ourselves in the foot coming out to slow starts, allowing guys to get open threes, allowing guys to get those shots, allowing guys to get layups,” Bradley Beal told the Washington Post. “It has to be one or the other. We can’t give up 3s and layups, or we’re going to be down 20 in the first quarter.”

One bright spot for the Wizards was reserve Mike Scott, who had 20 points off the bench and was on the floor when Washington rallied.

Down 2-0, Washington coach Scott Brooks may opt to go with the 6-foot-8 Scott in place of 6-11 Marcin Gortat, who has struggled at both ends thus far.

“When we go small, Mike’s a guy that can shoot from the 3 Jeremiah Attaochu Jersey Elite , and then they switch smalls on him, he can definitely score in the post,” Wall said.

The move could increase the inside advantage for a Toronto team that outrebounded Washington 48-34 in Game 2.

The Wizards could also use more offense from Beal, who is 11 of 28 in two games.

“That’s a little bit on him, a little bit on me, a little bit on John (Wall). We need him,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the Globe and Mail. “We’re going to have trouble beating this team if he’s not going to play better. And he will.”

Washington did not enjoy a strong home-court advantage this season, posting a 23-18 record at Capital One Arena, but Casey is ready for the worst.

“It’s going to be a hostile environment,” Casey told the Globe and Mail. “They’re going to be playing in a desperate mode, we’ve got to continue to be hungry, we’ve got to continue to go in with a fighter’s mentality to start the game as we did at home.”

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