TORONTO • Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has warned the Toronto Raptors that he has been playing within himself but will have a breakout game if that is what is necessary to get his team into the National Basketball Association Finals.
Cleveland will attempt to wrap up the Eastern Conference finals this morning (Singapore time), when they take a 3-2 lead to the Air Canada Centre.
James has gone 5-0 when given a chance to close out a series since returning to Cleveland, and has never failed to finish opponents off when afforded multiple chances to do so.
But, even as Cavs coach Tyronn Lue challenged James to be more assertive in Game 6 from the start, the forward is ready to defer to his team-mates.
"We didn't get to this point in our season by me taking over every game," said James, who is averaging 24.6 points against the Raptors.
"When you have a young superstar like (Kyrie Irving), you have Kevin (Love), who's a superstar as well, and they've helped us get to this point, so you don't just throw in the kitchen sink because we lose two games or we didn't play as well as we could.
"There may be a time when I may have to have one of those big games, but until then, just relax."
Cleveland are 0-4 in Toronto this season and lost Games 3 and 4 by a combined 21 points.
James took just 16 shots in Game 4 while Irving made 21 attempts from the field. That prompted questions over whether James should shoulder more of the load, and Lue left no doubts as to what he wants from the four-time Most Valuable Player.
"He has to be very assertive," Lue told ESPN. "He has to set the tone early and the rest of the guys will follow."
One player who plans to be more aggressive today is Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan. He has saved his highest shot totals this post-season for elimination games.
"I mean, yeah. That just shows you that me and the rest of the guys don't want to go home," DeRozan told the Toronto Sun. "We're going to do whatever it takes, anything possible, anything physically we can do on that court to make sure that that doesn't happen."
"We've got to be disciplined," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "As soon as we see two bodies on the ball, get rid of it. Passing it quicker is something we've got to do a better job of."
TORONTO V CLEVELAND
Eastern Conference Finals, Game 6: (StarHub Ch202, 8.30am).