29.8 ppg 9.5 rpg & 7.7 apg. These were Lebron James' statistics in his opening-round series versus the Wizards. 16.5 ppg 7.0 rpg & 7.5 apg. These are Lebron's current statistics in his second round series versus the Celtics. If anything, these stats are favorable for Lebron. His trips to the free-throw line have somewhat salvaged them. James shot 2-18 (0-6 3PT) from the field in a 76-72 loss to the Celtics in Game 1. In Game 2, James' response was a 6-24 (0-4 3PT) shooting output in a 89-73 loss. At 8-42 from the field for the series, Lebron's 19% shooting is the fourth worst in the first two games of a series (min. 30 attempts) ever! What happened to the guy thats been in the top 5 in MVP voting the last three years? The guy that can get to the rim and finish at will whenever he wants. The truth is, Lebron would probably like to know himself. Perhaps its just that Lebron has met his match, in the NBA's best defense. Maybe Lebron is physically tired from the beating he constantly took from the Washington defenders. Or could it be the fact that Lebron feels as if he is a one-man army out on the court? The truth is, we may never know. But if there's one thing Lebron knows for sure, his season isn't over yet.
Just one year ago, James found himself in a similar situation. In the Conference Finals versus the Pistons, James was held to a career playoff-low 10 points in Game 1. In Game 2, Lebron managed a satisfactory 19 points. He was unable to lead the Cavaliers to victory in both games. However, behind 2-0, Lebron responded. In Games 3 through 6, Lebron dropped 32, 25, 48, & 20. With the series tied at 2-2, Lebron put on a performance for the ages, giving Cleveland the series lead. He scored Cleveland's last 25 points en route to his 48 point outing. He also accounted for all 18 of Cleveland's overtime points, including the game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds remaining. In Game 6, James helped close out the series with a triple-double. After two abysmal performances, James was able to elevate his game to a new level and lead his team to a 4-2 series victory. Lebron knows he is capable of pulling himself out of the current situation.
But even with this as the case, the question becomes: Can Lebron do it again? In my opinion, I just do not think he can. Last year Lebron was able to carry the team on his shoulders. But that was a different team. With the new faces Lebron has this year, I do not believe their team is what it used to be. They're asking Lebron to do too much. The Cavs cannot rely on James to carry them. The Celtics defense is too good for that. Lebron will turn his series around. Just as he adjusted to the Pistons defensive scheme last year, he should do the same for the Celtics. He's just too good to keep this slump progressing. As for the Cavs as a team, they are fortunate to play the next two games at home. Cleveland seems to perform much better at the Quicken Loans Arena. They also have the luxury of knowing that the Celtics are 0-3 on the road thus far in the playoffs. How Boston is able to play in Cleveland should have a big factor in the series. While I do think Lebron and the Cavs will make a push for the series, I think the Celtics' dominate defense and play from the Big 3, should be enough for them to prevail and move on to the Conference Finals.
Image taken from Yahoo! Sports