Post Master General

Brian Windhorst:

The Cavaliers’ victory Monday night over the Golden State Warriors has the potential to mean more than just a tally in the standings. There’s a chance, at least the team’s coaches are hoping, that the results of the game also serve as a revelation for LeBron James.

With the outcome still undetermined and the Warriors deciding to play without a true center or power forward in the fourth quarter, James became ruthless in the post. Time after time he got in position on the block, both right and left, and called for the ball. Time after time he scored or drew fouls on Corey Maggette, who was not given help by teammates.

It wasn’t just that James was successful working his 6-8, 260-pound frame, although he certainly executed brilliantly in scoring 15 of the Cavs’ last 19 points in the 117-114 win. It was that James was the one who requested — no, demanded — the ball to be given to him in that position with the game on the line.

The Cavs coaches have called post-up plays for James for years when they have felt he has an advantage as he had on Maggette. Often he hasn’t used the chances, preferring to operate with the ball out on the wing while facing the basket. This time he didn’t just accept it, he embraced it.

“That is who he could be every time he posts up, if he wants,” coach Mike Brown said

This is definitely a good sign. We’ve seen glimpses of James on the block before (like on Christmas against Ron Artest) but the Golden State game was the first time I can remember LeBron repeatedly returned to the post.

I’m always skeptical when the Cavs or LeBron tout his work in the post. I’ve seen him do it mostly early in games or against crappy teams but whenever the game seems to be on the line, LeBron ends up dribbling 25 feet from the rim. Hell, even against Golden State, the Cavs (and LeBron’s) last shot was a three from the wing (a bad shot, there was no ball movement and James just stood there). So even in this great game where James dominated the post, when push came to shove and the Cavs needed a basket, he retreated to the one-on-five stuff.

I really do hope the Golden State game is a sign of things to come and not simply LeBron punking Maggette possession after possession (those two don’t get along). Nearly every time I’ve seen LeBron go to the block, he’s been effective. He’s so big, so quick and so skilled that he’s a monster to handle down low. It makes the Cavs harder to guard (especially compared to the 1-on-5 shit) and he’s a willing passer, not a black hole like a lot of post players.

But call me when he does it against a good team in a game they need. Maybe I’m cynical, but I want to see him do it against the Bostons of the league before I start dreaming of turnarounds and baby jump hooks. I’m very interested to see how James follows up his San Fransisco performance against Utah (on national TV).

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