LeBron James is a freak of nature, that much we know. No other basketball player has the combination of skill, size and athleticism he possesses.
The man is 6’8” and is listed at 250 pounds (even though it’s probably more) but he can sprint by defenders as if they’re standing still, or crash into them and still be able to finish like it’s nothing. It’s what he’s done for over a decade. And as you can imagine, playing against the monsters in the NBA, it will no doubt take its toll at some point. Yet he has no intention of taking a breather.
“I have no choice,” James said. “I don’t plan on sitting out any of these (eight) games unless something happens. I’m going to be in the lineup.
“It’s never been part of my DNA. If I feel I can get something, I’ve got to be out there for my teammates. It’s my obligation to be out there for them. I’m dealing with a few things but for me to sit out, I have to be dealing with a lot more.”
That statement was made on April 3, and so far he has stayed true to his word, averaging 40.8 minutes in the last five games. However maybe it’s time Erik Spoelstra steps in and force him to rest with NBA playoffs just around the corner.
James has racked up a total of 2,830 minutes over 75 games, which means an average of 37.7 minutes per game, placing him sixth overall. In March, that average went up as played 38.4 minutes per game, which placed him third overall as the Heat crawled to an unimpressive 10-8 record.
And it’s not like he’s just been coasting either.
King James has been at the epicenter of the Miami Heat’s production as illustrated by the 30.8 percent usage rate for the season, putting him fourth among players who have taken part in at least 50 games. And time and time again, he has come up with the goods as shown by his 20.1 Player Impact Estimate (PIE) percentage, bested only by Kevin Durant’s 20.7.
Even Spoelstra is in awe at times, branding James as “superhuman” for all the things he does.
“He along with Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, they’re the best end-of-possession, bail-you-out options for your offense,” he said. “You throw it to them and say, ‘Save us.’ He can do that with the best of them, but that can’t be your offense.”
He’s right, that can’t be the only offense, which means that the others have to step up.
Dwyane Wade has been hampered by injuries in 2013-14 hence why he has missed nearly 30 games. The latest ailment was initially thought to be a minor cramp but it turns out to be a hamstring injury which has forced him to miss nine games in a row and it’s still unknown when he’ll be back.
The likes of Greg Oden, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen have also suffered setbacks in recent weeks. So much so that LeBron had to play 41 minutes in a losing effort in Memphis on the second night of a back-to-back that began with an 88-87 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
So with that said, you would expect the likes of Chris Bosh to step up and have a larger contribution offensively. But that’s not been the case. Instead, Bosh has been somewhat of a second though on that side of the floor, going above the 15 point mark just twice in the past 14 games.
That is the kind of stuff James means when he says, “I have no choice” because the rest of the team are dropping like flies and no one is stepping up to share the workload offensively. And that is dangerous considering the Post season is right around the corner.
Shane Battier summed it up best when he said: “Everyone’s a little tired. Would days off help our big dogs? Yeah. I’ll let Coach handle that. The rest of us, we’ve got a job to do.”
The good thing is that Miami is now firmly in the driver seat in the Eastern Conference and their destiny is in their own hands having convincingly beaten the Indiana Pacers 98-86 to reclaim to spot in the conference. Plus they have a slightly easier run in with Indy set to face the Oklahoma City Thunder and an Orlando Magic team that already beaten them this season.
Meanwhile the Heat have the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and the awful Philadelphia 76ers on the last day of the regular season. That should extend LeBron James’ record of missing the last day of the season to seven years in a row.