If he was a pitcher throwing this absurd a number of innings or pitches, we’d fear he was going to blow his arm out. If he were a hockey player double-shifting constantly, we’d assume he’d be gassed and ineffective. If he were a running back being run into the ground, we’d worry about his career being shortened. But when LeBron James keeps being trotted onto the court— he’s played 228 of 250 minutes in this series—we know it’s because he and David Blatt really have no other choice.
The only reason the Cavaliers have been right there in every game this series (and when history remembers these Finals, it’ll chiefly remember and be baffled that LeBron somehow lugged this roster to two wins against an objectively stellar Warriors team) is that Cleveland’s only effective offense involves hurling iso play after iso play at a defense that knows it’s coming. It’s impressive enough that James has the energy to take all of this on himself; it’s even more incredible that he’s still effective.
Your stunning emoji-infographic of the night:
Even before Game 5, Haberstroh chronicled how sports scientists and trainers are marveling at LeBron’s “unfathomable,” “overwhelming” workload. The human body isn’t supposed to be able to do this much, let alone do it and remain the best player on the court. (And remember that LeBron isn’t a young man. He has more NBA minutes under his belt than Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or Allen Iverson did in their entire careers.) It doesn’t appear to be enough to drag the Cavs to a series win, but it’s more than anyone could realistically hope for.
“Should I expect more than 40 and a triple-double?” coach David Blatt asked about what more James could do.
The Finals MVP award is justly LeBron’s, and this series should do more for his legacy than any save his first championship. Postgame, James was asked if his poise and his personal success in these five games has been a function of the pressure to win being taken off his shoulders by a matchup that appears to be simply unwinnable. But it’s not the lack of a supporting cast that gives him confidence, LeBron said. “I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world. It’s that simple.”