The Cleveland Cavaliers have regressed. Should we think less of LeBron James?
James may have just played his final home game as a member of the Cavaliers. As the prize catch in this summer’s NBA free agency class, we figured this day would come – just not this early. But after being dumped at home by Boston by 32 points, 120-88, Tuesday night, the Cavs are down 3-2 in the second round and one game from playoff elimination.
James? He didn’t hit a basket in the first half. He was 3 for 14 in the game. He finished with 15 points, nine of those coming on free throws.
In the last two games, James is only 10 for 32 from the floor, and his name isn’t even Joe Johnson. He’s missing jump shots and he’s not attacking the basket. We can’t know how much of this is because of the elbow he injured in the Chicago series, but he wasn’t this off in the first three games of the series.
The Celtics have played excellent defense. But this is LeBron James. If Cleveland goes down to Boston in a series it was expected to win — after losing to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals last season — James’ reputation will take a hit.
Actually, it already has.
“I’ve got to wonder about LeBron James’ mindset,” Charles Barkley said on TNT’s post-game show. “Remember how he played in Game 3 – attack, attack, attack? This [should’ve been] an attack game. … I’m 100 percent disappointed, not by the fact he didn’t have a good game but because of his mentality. Tonight was the biggest game of the season, and I didn’t see the aggression I needed from an MVP at all.”
James didn’t make excuses: “I just missed a lot of shots,” he said.
He’ll still get a max contract this summer. He’ll still own half of Nike and possibly all of Manhattan next season if he signs with the New York Knicks.
But if the Cavs get bounced in the playoffs again, does James’ rep take a hit?