It’s no secret that LeBron James makes the Cleveland Cavaliers tick.
On 15-for-27 shooting in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, LeBron dropped a game-high 39 points and added 11 rebounds, nine assists, a steal, a block and five turnovers in a dominant effort.
Averaging 32.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists in 41.7 minutes per game in the Finals, James has simply done everything possible to lead his team to victory.
But, through three games, the Cavs find themselves down 3-0 and with their backs against the wall, on the brink of a sweep in front of their home fans on Friday despite James' elite outputs.
One reason for Cleveland’s struggles in this series has been their clear and complete reliance on James at all times. It’s one thing to depend on a single player, but in Game 3, the Cavs took it to a whole new level. Consider the following statistic:
In 46 minutes with LeBron on the court, Cleveland outscored the Warriors by seven points. However, in the two minutes of rest that he received, the Cavs were shockingly outscored by 12.
That shows what an incredible reliance that James’ team has on him. It also proves how unhealthy that can be.
Defensively, he also made a huge impact in Game 3, especially when matched up with Kevin Durant.
As you can imagine, it seems as though fatigue has played a part in LeBron’s performance this series, as you can tell by the following offensive numbers:
As you can see, he has been nearly unstoppable offensively in the first two quarters, but more like a human in the final two quarters. Given his massive role on both ends of the floor, it’s not much of a surprise to see his numbers fall off late in games.
Durant, on the other hand, has been able to have a profound impact late in games due to the plethora of help around him.
But, James seems to be up for the challenge and is looking with a short-sighted view towards Game 4.
With their backs against the wall, LeBron and the Cavs will look to avoid a sweep in front of their home fans on Friday. Given the numbers above, LeBron might play all 48 minutes in that contest.
If the first three games of the series are an indication, expect LeBron to put forth close to a triple-double while leading his team in scoring. But, as we have seen, that’s not always enough.