LeBron being 'tired' should not be an excuse for the Cavaliers

James' bad Game 5 shouldn't carry over to Game 6

Jake Chapman
May 25, 2018 - 3:32 pm
LeBron James

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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“These playoffs are emotional roller coasters right? From game to game it’s just amazing, the outlook on a series and the narrative around what’s going on in a series…”

That’s what Kyle Korver said in the locker room after the Cavs Game 3 win over the Celtics Saturday night at the Q, and the part about the narratives jumped out at me.

Most expected the Cavs to win the series beforehand, based on the fact that they had the best player in the world, they’d just swept Toronto, and Boston was inexperienced on this stage.

Then the Celtics took a 2-0 series lead. Sure enough, the 4-day gap between Games 2 and 3 allowed for some new narratives gone wild. We all knew Brad Stevens was outcoaching Ty Lue.

We knew LeBron’s supporting cast wasn’t good enough. We knew the Cavs didn’t have answers for Jaylen Brown or Al Horford. Then Game 3 happened. And Gagame 4. And Tristan Thompson held Al Horford in check and Kyle Korver defended his ass off and J.R. Smith hit a bunch of threes and LeBron James took Brown out of the game and the Cavs offense wisely targeted Terry Rozier after switches.

Within 8 days, and over the course of 4 games, we’d done 360 degrees of narrative.

Then Game 5 happened, and Lue’s a bad coach again, Smith stinks again, Horford was a deserving all-star and now LeBron is apparently… tired?

The NBA universe has been spiked with “LeBron is clearly exhausted” takes since Game 5, partly due to LeBron’s own head coach saying he looked tired during his post-game press conference. I watched a cut-up yesterday of moments during Game 5 where LeBron was, gasp, breathing heavily!

He was even drinking large amounts of water! Sound the alarm! The video also showed “miscues” like that moment in the game when he threw a pass that bounced off a teammate’s hands. LeBron’s exhaustion is evidently making his teammates worse too!

Of course he’s tired. He was probably tired in Game 2 of the Pacers series when he dropped 46. I’d imagine he was tired in Game 5 of that series when he did 44. And I know he was tired in Game 7 of that series when he had 45.

How about Game 3 of the Raptors series? It was his 5th playoff game in 10 days. He must’ve been super tired, he only scored 38 points. Slouch.

Everyone is tired, it’s almost June. LeBron scored 44 points in 42 minutes in Game 4 on Monday. I’m sure he was tired then.

But I’m supposed to believe that that was his last gasp? By Wednesday he was completely cooked? What the hell did he do on Tuesday?

LeBron is tired, but that’s not why he played poorly Wednesday. He played poorly Wednesday because he plays basketball and sometimes, no matter how great you are, you play poorly.

His coaches coached poorly, his teammates played poorly too, it was a poor effort from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tiredness had nothing to do with it.

We all expect Game 6 to be better, exhaustion or no, and it has to be. Because if LeBron plays “tired” tonight, he’ll have plenty of time to rest.