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NBA: Raptors ready for third shot at Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James  (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

TORONTO (AP) – The Toronto Raptors seem to have everything lined up in their favor heading into their postseason matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They’re rested. The Raptors feel they are ready. They have home-court advantage.

But they’ve been confident before heading into a playoff showdown with James and have come up short — twice.

“Gotta go through the best to get to that trophy,” All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan said. “Every step of the way we’re going to come across somebody”

The Raptors open their second-round playoff series at home to James and the Cavs on Tuesday night. Cleveland has eliminated Toronto in two straight postseasons, including the 2016 conference finals and a second-round sweep last year.

This time, however, Toronto is the top-seeded team in the East after a team-record 59-win season. The Raptors have been off since a Game 6 victory over Washington last Friday night finished their first-round series, while James and the Cavs were pushed to the limit in grinding out a Game 7 win over Indiana on Sunday.

That’s a stark contrast to 2016, when Cleveland had eight days of rest before facing a Toronto team that had played consecutive seven-game series. Or last year, when the Cavs got a week off while waiting for Toronto to complete a six-game victory over Milwaukee in the opening round.

“They’re coming off a series where they were banging and bumping for seven games,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “I think our energy has been great. I think the days off will definitely have helped us a little bit.”

James, meanwhile, has shouldered a heavy load for the Cavs, scoring 40 or more three times in the first round. He played 43 minutes in Game 7, and was briefly forced off the court in the second half because of leg cramps.

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