Well, many other writers I respect have weighed in (even if you might need to pay a little extra to see it). So, clearly I am late to the party. However, after LeBron’s putrid 3 for 14, in Cleveland’s shocking loss to Boston last night, it is would be wrong for someone who chronicled NBA power rankings to let it go without comment. What did I see in the game?
Clearly, LeBron is struggling. Whether it be the elbow or whatnot, he has not been as insistent as he has been in his better performances. Indeed, examining the Cavaliers 117-113 loss to Boston at the end end of the regular season where Cleveland nearly came back from 22 down, LeBron took 31 shots and 22 FTs to go with 9 assists! In fact, looking at all of the regular season results, this is what you get:
Regular Season vs Celtics
|LeBron Poss||149.04||149||1.000||LeBron create||0.388|
I use Hollinger’s Usage Rate Calculation here. And note, there are no 3 pointers in play here – just so the assists are treated all equally (even if that is not true in a practical sense). So LeBron was involved in 40% of the Cavaliers possessions vs the Celtics and generated nearly 39% of the offense. In the 117-113 aforementioned game, LeBron had to assert himself, and thus his usage went up to 51%! Over half the Cavs possessions while he was on the floor involved him in some form or another. This is their offensive philosophy.
Look at the playoff games and what do we get?
|LeBron Poss||147.52||140||0.949||LeBron create||0.302|
So the usage dropped all series, down from 40% of possessions in the Celtics games to 31.8%. This is a 21% drop from the regular season meetings. LeBron has also created less of the Cavs offense by 22.2%. The Celtics defense can get some credit – and this dropoff might be nice if we were talking about great Cavs offense. However, the Cavs points per possession have dropped. So the Cavs offense has dropped and LeBron’s INVOLVEMENT has dropped also.
The nadir of course was the LeBacle. His line represented a ghastly 30.3% usage rate generating a mere 20.9% of the points. 30.3% against 40.0% in the regular season!! This is a drop of nearly 1/4. LeBron just did not assert himself.
Whether it is injuries or the metaphysical baloney Chuck was mentioning on Inside the NBA, LeBron has to step his game up again. LeBron was brilliant all postseason last year, even in defeat. This series he has not insisted on being counted – not yet anyway. He is not the first star to have a bad stretch – indeed Kobe blatantly mailed in playoff games before – but he has a lot to answer for.
And with that, I jink my Celtics.