CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Once again LeBron James enjoyed the taste of victory Monday night.
He almost had a beer too.
With 2:24 left in the third quarter and his Cavaliers leading by 16, James was wrapped up by Raptors forward Serge Ibaka on his way to the basket.
Frustrated that he missed the reverse lay-in after being fouled, James hopped twice and screamed as he headed to the far sideline where he nearly ran into a vendor before grabbing a beer right out of her hands. He pretended to take a sip before quickly handing it back to her which brought the sellout crowd to its feet.
“I’m not going to run over our beer lady,” James said smiling. “She had one and I grabbed it. I’m not a beer guy. If she had some red wine I would have probably taken a sip.”
James scored 35 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out 4 assists to go with a steal and a block in leading the Cavs to an impressive 116-105 win over the Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena.
Guard J.R. Smith was right in front of James when it happened and he admitted that he was a tad jealous that his teammate could pull off such a stunt in the middle of a game.
“I was standing right next to him,” Smith, who scored 6 points off of a pair of 3s, said. “I thought it was hilarious until I thought about if I did it. It wouldn’t have been taken the right way. It was funny though.”
James and the Cavaliers had the offense flowing early despite an 8-day layoff after sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the quarterfinals as they erupted for 62 first half points.
“That was the mystery coming into the game, how we would come out?” James said. “Obviously you prepare, you want to come out and play well, but you never know after an eight-day layoff. But the energy was phenomenal.”
James likes to refer to Game 1s of a playoff series as a “feel out” game for him as he probes the opposition to see what is or isn’t working for him and his team.
If that was the case Monday night, the Raptors might as well pack up and head north now.
James showed off his hops early as the Cavs erupted for a 10-0 run after Toronto scored the first basket – a 3-pointer by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry – capped by a thunderous throw-down by James off of a Kyrie Irving flip off of the backboard with his left hand.
“It’s just another play in the books for me and Bron,” Irving said.
Irving dished out a playoff career-high 10 assists in addition to breaking ankles on multiple occasions and scoring 24 points in Cleveland’s fifth straight win this postseason.
The Cavs, who have beaten Toronto the last 4 times in the playoffs at The Q by an average of 25 points, have won 12 of their last 13 playoff games at home and are 29-4 against the Eastern Conference since the start of the 2015 playoffs.