(This goes a little long, so consider yourself warned).
– First, I implore you to listen to Brian Windhorst’s interview on WKNR from Wednesday morning. It’ll run ya about 20 minutes and his stuff on LeBron is quite interesting (short version: if the Cavs lose to Boston, it’s all on LeBron, who is apparently quite moody, and if he leaves, that means he’s a quitter. Kinda).
– I also recommend Windy’s podcast at Cleveland.com, also 20 minutes. Basically, what I take away from Windhorst is that there’s something wrong with LeBron and no one knows what it is. No one. Not the coaches, not the players, not LeBron’s friends and family. No one. So ya… make of that as you will. Windy also questions the mental toughness of LeBron, Mo, and Delonte (basically everyone but Shaq and Z). Awesome. That’s a great sign.
– While Windhorst says LeBron’s elbow isn’t a factor (he says it’s mildly injured at best and it doesn’t explain LeBron’s demeanor, energy, etc), John Bena at Fear the Sword says James is more hurt than we realize:
According to this unconfirmed rumor, a medical professional close to LeBron James is suggesting James is suffering from a torn ligament in his right elbow –
Lebron has a torn ligament in his elbow that should keep him out 6 to 8 weeks. He’s trying to play through it and not complain, so the media doesn’t know it’s that serious. Before game 4 he had a shot in the elbow to numb it. You can only get the shot once every 10 days, so last night he couldn’t do it.
I was also told that LeBron did the main damage to the elbow on the same play I had talked about a couple weeks ago right here. I’ll re-post the video at the end to remind everyone.
What this means I’ll leave up to you to decide. If true, does it forgive LeBron’s indifference on and off the court? Does it explain away consecutive home blow-out defeats? Your call. What it does explain, at least for me, is the flat trajectory of LeBron’s jump-shot. So much of a jump-shot comes from the elbow and forearm.
I don’t know how much of this I believe, but it does make some sense. Something isn’t right and it could very well be the elbow. I almost rather he be hurt (and not know how to play with an injury) rather than him losing his mental focus for whatever reason (free agency? pressure? Iron Man 2?).
– Despite brushing off the elbow concerns in the podcasts, Windhorst did offer up this tweet on Wednesday night:
LeBron also talked about elbow, hinting about plans, severity: “The elbow is an issue I’ll deal with in the offseason.”
“Deal with in the offseason”. So is he hurt or not? Does this mean surgery? Can this count as an excuse?
– Kevin Arnovitz breaks down LeBron’s Game 5 in this short video:
– I have to say that Bill Simmons’ Retro-Diary was pretty entertaining and I agree with a lot of it:
7:21: Paul Pierce makes a free throw, then posts up Parker for an easy bucket on the next play. Cleveland made a huge mistake in Game 5: It overreacted to Rajon Rondo’s monster 29-18-13 in Game 4, tweaked its defense to slow him down and allowed Pierce and Ray Allen to get going. I say “overreacted” because Rondo had one of the three greatest playoff triple-doubles in NBA history on Sunday. Pretty sure that wasn’t happening again. Throw in his illogical rotations (41 minutes for Shaq and Ilguaskas?????) and the panic move of playing two guys who hadn’t played all series (Ilgauskas and Boobie Gibson) and the only way Brown could have hurt Cleveland more in this game is if he clubbed LeBron with a tire iron during a timeout.
(Important note: The Cavs’ biggest advantage in this series was/is athleticism. The Celtics can’t match up with Hickson-LeBron-Moon-West-Williams or Hickson-LeBron-Varejao-Williams-West. In a Feb. 25 game in Boston, Hickson-LeBron/Moon-Varejao-West-Williams turned a 78-77 deficit into a 101-86 rout in just eight minutes. They blew the Celtics off the court. Tuesday night, Varejao played 17 minutes, Hickson played four and Moon played seven. It’s illogical. It makes no sense. You could argue that Varejao should play 48 minutes a game in this series, and that Moon should be the one defending Rondo. Wait, why am I pointing this out! Um, keep playing Shaq! Twenty-one points in Game 5! Looked great!)
Ugh. (For what it’s worth, I totally agree about Shaq. He’s a defensive liability, he disrupts the offense and he scored a bunch of those 21 points once the game was out of reach. As Simmons point out, the Cavaliers went 21-4 without Shaq this season and oh, by the way, they also won 66 games last season sans O’Neal. Shaq isn’t absolutely critical to their success versus the Celtics. Against the Magic? Yes. Against Boston? Nope).
– And finally, I’ve heard various people say (talk radio, internet forums, Facebook, etc) that this whole thing is just a stunt by LeBron so he can be the center of attention. That LeBron has such a big ego, he’s playing this up (and, I guess, throwing games) so he can come back and be the savior in Game 6 and Game 7 (similar to him playing up his elbow injury).
First off, I think that’s absurdly stupid. There’s no way that LeBron is throwing playoff games.
Second, if that’s true (which it’s not… right?) then (A) that’s actually kinda sad and (B) job well done, LeBron. You got me. I’m sucked in. Do you have any idea how many articles I’ve read today? How many discussions I’ve had with various people?
(Topics of discussion include, but are not limited to: Shaq bitching for minutes, Delonte not showing up, Mo Williams playing like a dog, no Hickson, no Moon, LeBron’s elbow, LeBron not paying attention in the huddle, @LeBronsElbow LeBron not having the will to win or the killer instinct. Who’s gonna stop Rondo? Should we call this The LeBacle or LeBromageddon? Did Antawn Jamison secretly suck and no one told us? Are you allowed to fire a head coach mid-series? How hurt is Anderson Varejao? Why is Mike Brown unable to make in-game adjustments? Could this could kill basketball in Cleveland? OMG John Calipari is sitting next to LeBron’s agent! What jersey should I wear tomorrow for good luck? Was this LeBron’s last game in Cleveland? Was this LeBron’s last game in Cleveland?? Was this LeBron’s last game in Cleveland?? Was this LeBron’s last game in Cleveland?? Was this LeBron’s last game in Cleveland??).
Ya got me, Bron-Bron. You win. I’m hooked.
(Also, anyone know what’s it’s like being “the co-worker/guy who works at the library/friend/dude on Facebook with the Cavs blog”? Lot’s of Cavs small talk. Not that I don’t enjoy it. Obviously. Heh.)
– My opinion? I literally have no idea where this series is going. I’m ready for anything. Is it possible that LeBron comes out and scores something stupid like 57 points? Absolutely. If he gets going, there’s no one on the Celtics who can check him. But I could also see him hoist dagger three after dagger three while the Celtics sit back and let him shoot. The Cavs have every reason to believe they can win in Boston (they did, um, give the Celtics a 32 points thrashing not even a week ago) but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they walked off the court with their tail between their legs.
However, the Cavs do have a distinct advantage heading into Game 6 (and I hate to say this): The refs.
Seriously, how bad do you think David Stern wants this thing to go the full seven? Every other second round matchup ended in a sweep. Which do you think the NBA would rather have on ABC this Sunday, Game 1 of Celtics-Magic or Cavs-Celtics Game 7 (which doubles as LeBron’s possible last game in Cleveland)? I’m pretty biased, but I have my guess which the league office would prefer.
Now, I’m not saying that Stern would fix the game but I am saying that I’d be surprised if LeBron gets whistled for a lot of charges on Thursday. I mean, this is similar to Lakers-Kings 2002, no? Lakers went into Sacramento down 3-2 and then shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter (to the Kings’ 9). Wouldn’t be unheard of.
Hmm… I’ve seemed to have wandered off into NBA conspiracy theories. Am I over thinking this? It’s possible I’m over thinking this.
LeBron James, needless to say, you have my attention.