The Spike Game: LeBron’s greatest night as a Cavalier

Going into Game 2 of the 2015 Finals on Sunday, a 2-0 Warriors lead was seen by many as a foregone conclusion. 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists later, LeBron James was memorably spiking the ball high off the Oracle Arena hardwood and into the Oakland sky with the series tied at 1-1 and his greatest night as a Cavalier in the books.

This was a special performance, and it stemmed from his improved shot selection.

I wrote after Game 1 about two competing versions of LeBron on offense, about how too many Bad LeBron sightings kept his 44-point night from being one of his better Finals performances.

In Game 2, he set the tone with a first half that was Good LeBron in the extreme: a player making the most of his talents as a passer, scorer and dominant physical force, carrying his team to a surprising lead.

In the first quarter, he attacked the paint time and again both off the dribble and out of the post-up. He took ten shots and I had to compile them all in one YouTube video because every single one of them was smart:

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Good LeBron, Bad LeBron: The greatness and imperfection of James’ 44-point Game 1

LeBron James put up 44 points in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals as the Cavaliers went down to defeat in overtime, failing to take advantage of what was probably their best chance to steal a game on the Warriors’ home floor. It was the highest-scoring Finals game of James’ career, and an at times dominant, yet at times frustrating performance.

In many ways, LeBron did a perfect job of exhibiting what I view as the good and the bad of his offensive game.

The good: He is an unstoppable scoring force who can bring a defense to its knees when he posts up, attacks the basket, and takes on-balance shots in the flow of the offense.

The bad: He too often bails out the defense with ill-advised, long-distance, low percentage shots, often fading away, completely outside of the flow of the offense. When he does this he fails to take advantage of his strengths and reduce his teammates to useless bystanders.

Good LeBron was on display in abundance, as he posted up no less than 26 times – surely as much as any time in his career. As an onlooker who often bemoaned his unwillingness or inability to do work in the low post throughout the first half of his career, it is refreshing and rewarding to see him going to his now beautifully-refined post game. Continue reading

Lethargic LeBron and bumbling Blatt: How the Cavs lost Game 1 to Chicago

The Chicago Bulls took a 1-0 lead in their second round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, stealing home court advantage and setting up something close to a must-win game for the Cavs in Game 2.

At the heart of the Cavs’ loss was a lackadaisical, curiously careless performance from their leader LeBron James.

James put up 19 points on 9-for-22 shooting with six turnovers – his lowest output since a 2-for-10 night in Game 5 of last year’s Conference Finals. He appeared to lack focus and a sense of urgency.

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LeBron’s hair: Has James fixed his hairline?

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Whilst browsing photos from the launch event for LeBron James’ latest signature shoe, it hit me: LeBron looks different. On closer inspection, it has become clear that he has magically re-established his hairline.

For years, LeBron’s hair has been receding.

It was already thinning around the temples as a rookie back in 2003:

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As the years went on, he strategically placed his headband further and further up his forehead to cover his rapidly retreating hairline.

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NBA Finals, Game 5: screenshot diary and analysis

With the Spurs up 3-1 hoping to finish the job unlike last year and the Heat just hoping to survive to play another game, a Game 5 screenshot recap is a must.

Pre-game

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This girl’s name is Colbie Caillat apparently. She delivers the best national anthem rendition of the series so far.

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This lad just outplayed the best player in the world twice on his own home floor. Will he continue his incredible post-Game 2 play?

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NBA Finals, Game 2: a LeBron performance to remember

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Game 2 of the 2014 Finals was another in a long line of statement games for LeBron James. Coming off Crampgate and a Game 1 loss, a response of sorts was required. It was delivered.

Setting up shop around the rim and not shooting his first jumpshot until three minutes into the third quarter, James played an almost exaggerated version of what I consider to be his ideal game as a scorer. Time and again in the first half he attacked the basket off the dribble or allowed others to initiative the offense whilst he bullied Spurs defenders into the low post, refusing to budge until the possession was over.

He was relentlessly aggressive, putting an immense amount of pressure on a defense which prefers not to double team. It is this kind of rough-and-tumble on-ball and off-ball physical contact he has at times shied away from him during his career, so it was rewarding to see him embrace it to such an extent in such a big game, from the very first possession:

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NBA Finals, Game 1: screenshot diary

The Finals are here and it’s the Heat/Spurs rematch we anticipated all year long. A Game 1 screenshot diary is a must.

Pre-game

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Remember when the NBA used to get adults to sing the national anthem?

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Duncan and Sean Marks stroke hands, and we’re ready to go. Little known fact: six of Marks’ 11 starts as an NBA player came with the Heat.

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LeBron James, teammate for the ages, continues to do it all for the Heat

As if his averages of 27.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 57.3% shooting were not enough, LeBron James is also fixing his teammates’ wardrobe malfunctions.

Watch closely here as he identifies and successfully removes a loose thread from Chris Bosh’s jersey during a break in the 4th quarter last night. You won’t see this on the NBA.com highlights:

Ever attentive to his comrades, LeBron continues to prove to be perhaps the greatest teammate of any of the all-time great scorers in NBA history.

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