TORONTO • The Cleveland Cavaliers remain undefeated in their first eight National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off games this season.
That does not mean it has been easy, even though they were able to complete a four-game sweep of their Eastern Conference semi-final series with a 109-102 win over the Toronto Raptors after giving up the lead in the fourth quarter.
"We understand it's never easy, especially in a close-out game," said Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday and added nine assists.
"There's desperation at their end and desperation at our end."
LeBron James scored 35 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had six assists to lead the Cavaliers, who won the NBA championship last season and will play either the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"Winning close-out games is always tough," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.
"Give credit to (Raptors coach Dwane) Casey, he had them ready to play, they came out and competed. It was tough on us."
The Raptors were playing without point guard Kyle Lowry, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Game Two on Wednesday.
"They have good players, even without Kyle," Lue added.
Casey said: "It's tough because we know we can play better than we did in the first two games, and we didn't.
"Today, I thought the players laid it on the line. I thought the guys played with grit, toughness, togetherness.
"(The Cavaliers) present so many problems offensively, they have so many weapons. The way they were making shots, and they were well guarded, you're going to have to score 117-118 points a night to beat them."
In Washington, Bradley Beal scored 29 points and the Wizards produced 26 unanswered points in the third quarter en route to a 121-102 win over the Boston Celtics in Game Four of their Eastern Conference semi-final play-off series.
The Wizards evened the best-of-seven series 2-2 after the Celtics won the first two games in Boston. Game Five is tomorrow in Boston.
"We played inspired basketball for each other," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. "It's probably our best stretch of basketball."
Celtics centre Al Horford said: "We just turned the ball over a lot. It'll be interesting to go back and look at the game and see what we can do. They just turned us, and (it) kept leading to lay-ups for them."