Cris Carter reacts to LeBron James’ buzzer-beater to down Raptors in Game 3

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In his discussion with Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe, Cris Carter reacts to LeBron James' buzzer-beater to down the Raptors in game three of the East's second round. Will Cleveland complete the sweep?

- Well, I had to change my opinion. I didn't think they would make it to the finals, to the NBA finals. I thought Philadelphia-- when they were all jockeying for position, when they started the playoffs, I thought Philadelphia was going to be better than them. I thought this was going to be the year that Cleveland-- not because LeBron James, but because of the supporting cast, the lack of continuity, the lack of court time this team has spent, the abbreviated seasons that they've had, four different ones. You know, they had three different ones during the season, but they had no training camp.

But that seven-game series against the Pacers has galvanized this roster where they are playing I would say the best pressure-packed basketball. Because they played a great month to 45 days of basketball where they had a tremendous record. I think they won 19 of 21--


- --you know. And so you can say, yes, they did play, but, in doing that, could they beat the quality teams out there. And I think that in looking at Toronto-- and, Nick, you pointed it out this weekend when you and I were talking, was, they're the second best team. They've got the second best record in the NBA this year, even a better record than Golden State. Now, that's very impressive. We know Houston has the best record, but to say a team-- because any team that had a better record than Golden State, you would give them a certain amount of respect for what they're doing.

But Kevin Love finding his game, the lineup changes that they've gone to, they have made me change my opinion that, yes, the Cavs can get to the finals. Yes. And seeing what's going on in the other bracket--

- Yeah.

- --where Boston is ahead of Philadelphia 3-0, yes, I've changed my opinion. It's based on what I've seen. And the Cavs have earned-- they've made me-- they've made me change my opinion.

- So, I mean, this probably isn't a shock to people who watch the show. My opinion hasn't changed because I had either what's called faith or what some folks have called blind faith that this is what the team would look like around this time of year. I did not expect them to struggle as much with Indy as they did. But I-- even after struggling with Indy, I did not think Toronto could match up with them at all.

At the beginning of the year, the midway point of the year, and heading into the postseason, if you asked me what do I think about the Cavs, I would have said they will make the NBA finals and be a heavy underdog against either Houston or Golden State. Right now, sitting here today, they will make the NBA finals and be either-- a heavy underdog against either Golden State or Houston.

But what I didn't see coming was, all of a sudden, this team jelling the way it has. And it's really-- when I say all of a sudden, it is just three games. Because they didn't gel at any point in the Pacers series.


- We were excited about a three-minute stretch of basketball at the start of the fourth quarter of game 7.

- Right. But you were excited because you said that the Pacers-- that the way they played, that they beat the-- the Cavs three out of four during the regular season--

- Uh-huh.

- --they match up well with them, it's one of those kind of things-- it's maybe not necessarily on paper, but they give the Cavs problems. And you said the way the bracket is coming out, Toronto was going to be a godsend for the Cavs in-- in the semi-finals.

- Even though they won 59 games--


- And I'm not one of the people calling them the baby dinosaurs. I'm not saying Toronto is a bad team or a fraud of a team. I don't believe any of those things. And while they had the second best record, I wouldn't call them the second best team, and neither would you. But I would have called them the third best team this year.

- Yes. Definitely.

- They were the third best team all year long. Houston, Golden State, and then Toronto. But what this series also is going to do is give the Cavs-- and, most importantly, LeBron-- rest. They are going to have a week off, nearly a week off, going into the next round. Now, the Celtics might as well, but it's more important for Cleveland.


- LeBron playing now-- he's played 92 games-- or 91 games-- pardon me-- 42 minutes a game in the postseason. And the one thing that was overlooked and underrated in the Pacers series was not having George Hill for 3 and 1/2 games.


- Now that they have an actual point guard, Jordan Clarkson barely has to play. Calderón doesn't play at all. They don't have to lean on Rodney Hood for any type of shotmaking. Now what you're seeing is the five guys who were on the finals last year, plus Jeff Green, plus George Hill. And you have a seven-man rotation that you believe in.

- Two things. One, why do I always bet against you and then kick myself the next morning? But more importantly-- and one that we can actually discuss on this show-- why do you think-- after what you saw and how you saw the Cavs play the Pacers and how the Pacers took them all the way, I mean, like just ripped them--

- Uh-huh.

- --to the core; they were exhausted after that series and barely won. Did you think they were going to be a great matchup for Toronto? Did you think they'd have no problem with Toronto? You said they wouldn't lose another game basically till the end.

- Until the Eastern Conference finals. They-- listen, some of it's matchups. Some of it, the Pacers have more bodies to throw at you. Another is that the Pacers had every reason to change what they did in the regular season. We're going to pick LeBron up 90 feet. We're going to do-- we're going to do drastic measures.

JENNA WOLFE: But the Raptors wouldn't?

- No, because the-- when you're the favorite, when you have home court, when you've won 59 games, I think their mindset was, we're going to do what we do. We're going to play Raptors basketball. And LeBron wouldn't allow it to work.

- To me, the only difference between what's going on now, Kevin Love and the role players playing better. But the Pacers had a finisher in Victor Oladipo. He was a finisher. And the Raptors don't have a finisher. If the Raptors had a finisher, it could be-- it could be 2 to 1. It could be 1 to 2. Like let's not forget what happened in game number 1. Let's not forget LeBron just had another buzzer-beater. But that was without Toronto's star, not playing the last 14 minutes.

So if Toronto had a better closing method or a better closer, the way Cleveland does-- but I still have more confidence-- so this is not a series that, all of a sudden, once it started, Cleveland started playing like they were two years ago. No. This has been a highly contested series. The game number 2 got away from them, and that I believe was Cleveland's best basketball that they've played this postseason.

- And it looked like they were following that up in game 3 until the fourth quarter--


- --when Cleveland-- here's an underrated thing about Cleveland.

- Seven quarters, Cleveland played spectacular basketball.