Can LeBron Win a Series All By Himself? Cavs Step Up In Game One Victory

During the current playoffs, LeBron James has often looked like a man carrying the weight of a franchise on his shoulders, but on Tuesday night his teammates helped him out when he needed it most.

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors 113-112 in overtime in Toronto to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals, wresting home court advantage away from the Raptors in the process.

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the second half of Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre on May 1, 2018 in Toronto. Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

James clinched the 21st triple-double of his playoffs, finishing with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, but shot only 12-for-30 for the field.

"I definitely wasn't as efficient as I would like to be," James told reporters after the game.

"I missed a lot of open looks, a lot of open 3s that they were going under. A lot of floaters in the lane. Because of the injury I had in Game 7 [of the first round against the Indiana Pacers] I didn't have the opportunity to get on the court this morning and [Monday] as well, so, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is to try to get a win."

LeBron struggled from beyond the arc and from the foul line, going 1-for-8 and 1-for-6 respectively. Uncharacteristically, he went missing in the crucial phase of the game.

In the fourth quarter and overtime combined, LeBron went only 3-for-15 from the field, the highest number of shots he has missed in the final period or in overtime throughout his playoffs career.

However, LeBron received solid support from his teammates, with Tristan Thompson registering 14 points and 12 rebounds, while J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver scored 20 and 19 points respectively. The four-time MVP was full of praise for his supporting cast.

"My teammates were unbelievable tonight," James said, as reported by ESPN. "They stepped up when I wasn't at my best."

The Cavs' performance was in sharp contrast with their display in Game 7 against the Pacers on Sunday, when James scored his team's first 13 points of the game, before adding a further 32 over the next three quarters. At the beginning of the second period, the three-time NBA champion had scored 17 points and had made all his seven shots, while the rest of team combined had 18 points and shot 6-of-18.

The series against the Pacers marked the first time LeBron won a playoff series without having a single teammate contributing 20 or more points in a single game—a rather incredible figure, given he the first-round matchup was the 42nd playoff series of his career.

Throughout the season, the current Cavs' roster was described as the weakest ever supporting cast LeBron has had since he made his NBA debut in 2003, and Smith admitted Cleveland can't simply rely on his star.

"We've just got to keep chipping in as much as we can," he was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"He can't play Superman every night," Smith said of James. "He had some good looks, they just didn't fall. Kyle hit a big shot, Kev hit shots. It's our job to pick him up."

Whether Tuesday night proved that LeBron can't win a series by himself or that the Cavs aren't as bad as some think remains to be seen, but James will need all the help he can get if he is to drag Cleveland to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year.