While LeBron James is the best player in the NBA today and one of the best in league history, not everything he does is legendary or epic. Yet for some reason everybody throws those terms around on a nightly basis when he is on the floor. The same words were on full display on Sunday night when he had 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in a three-point win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Yes, those numbers are huge. Yes, he played a massive role in the Cavaliers win. No, it wasn’t a legendary or epic performance. While he has been really good, he hasn’t been himself. Especially in these playoffs, and Sunday was more proof of that.
James has played 171 playoff games over the course of ten seasons. In those games, he is averaging 28 points on 47.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 31.9 percent from 3-point range and 75.6 percent from the free-throw line. He also contributes 8.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.7 steals with 3.5 turnovers in 42.4 minutes a game.
This year those numbers are different. While his rebounding and assist numbers have been very impressive, his shooting and decision-making have taken a big hit. He is shooting just 42.2 percent from the floor (third worst of his playoff career), including just 16.1 percent from three (by far the worst of his career). It’s not like he hasn’t been shooting the three either. He is 10-for-62 from distance so far. That leaves him with a career-low effective field goal percentage of 43.9. And it’s not like that is limiting him from letting it fly. He is averaging a career-high of 25.2 shots per game. His is also averaging 4.6 turnovers a game (the second highest of his career).
That leads us to his “EPIC” game from Sunday night. He shot 37.8 percent from the floor on 37 attempts. That is his fourth worst shooting night in these playoffs. His 37 attempts were his most in any NBA game of his career (regular season or playoffs). His 23 missed shots were his most in these or another other playoffs.In fact, it ties the most misses he has ever had in any NBA game (he was 11-for-34 in a six-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 8th, 2006, and 12-for-35 in a three-point loss to the Detroit Pistons on April 17th, 2005). His ball handling wasn’t on point either. His six turnovers were tied for third most in this playoff run and just the 28th time in his playoff career that he had at least that many.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was his worst playoff performance or anything of the sort. In fact, It’s far from it! (that game came in Boston in May of 2008 when he had 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but shot just 2-for-18 from the floor and had 10 turnovers). I just don’t throw around the terms legendary or epic very often. There are reserved for better than what we saw from LeBron on Sunday.
All statistical information from Basketball-reference.com.