LeBron James was flat out awful in last night’s pounding of the Cavs by the Celtics in Cleveland. There is no other way to describe it. Combining his lack of urgency with the pathetic play of Mo Williams and indifferent coaching of Mike Brown has the Cavs on the brink of elimination. To put last night’s blow out in perspective, consider the fact that while Michael Jordan may have had off nights shooting the basketball, in 179 career playoff games, his team only lost 3 times by more than 20 points. Only 3 times in 179 games!! Even when he was not shooting well, he managed to keep his team from being embarrassed through effort and anger.
That is the biggest problem I had with LeBron’s game last night was not his 21% shooting from the field but the fact that he only took 14 shots and he looked disengaged. Where was the fire or the effort or the anger from getting your butt kicked? When things didn’t go right for Jordan or Bird or Kobe, you saw the scowls come out and the abuse of teammates to drive them to play better. Where is that from LeBron? I would guess that he is angry with Mo Williams and angry with Mike Brown, but he definitely has not shown that outside of the locker room, if at all. Does he have the ability to get fired up and take it to the next level? We have never seen it from The King. Is that his kryptonite? The fact that he doesn’t have “The Scowl” or the fire to focus every ounce of his energy on winning a title and not to get distracted by his pending free agency or trying to be a global icon. We’ll see what happens in game 6 in Boston, but if he does not come out and dominate, it will be obvious that the King is not wearing the clothes required to be the greatest of all time.
I think the biggest reason that he was disinterested last night were Mo Williams and the poor coaching from Mike Brown. Mo Williams has been absolutely awful. Not only has he not been effective offensively, but the Celtics have decided to attack whomever Williams is guarding. He does not have quick enough feet to stay with Rajon Rondo, and Rondo blows by him regularly to get a lay up or shoots right over him if he falls back. When Williams switches on to Ray Allen, Allen immediately goes to the block and posts him up. He has been a huge liability on both ends of the court.
The other issue is the poor coaching from Mike Brown. If Shaq thinks that Stan Van Gundy is The Master of Panic, I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of Brown once he retires at the end of this season. Brown has looked more lost on the sideline than anyone in the ABC series Lost. His playing rotation has been sporadic and random, playing Daniel Gibson for the first time in the series in game 5, giving uneven minutes for guys like Jamario Moon, and trying Zydrunas Ilgauskas for short bursts. He has basically decided on his rotation using the theory: “Let’s throw this in bed with Madonna and see if she sleeps with it.” Not exactly a recipe for success.
The good news for the Cavs is that they are not done yet and have a chance to bounce back on Thursday night in Boston. If LeBron comes out with authority, and Mike Brown stays home, the Cavs will be in position to win that game (like they did in Game 3) and get game 7 back at home. But if the Cavs fail, Mo Williams and Mike Brown didn’t help King James on the court, so maybe they could help him off the court by packing his bags when he leaves Cleveland for good.