LeBron responds to claims he looked tired in disappointing Game 5 loss


LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will face their second elimination game of this year’s postseason after a dispiriting 96-83 Game 5 loss to the Boston Celtics dropped them into a 3-2 series deficit.

The Cavaliers previously faced elimination in a Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers.

But this elimination game feels different. The Cavaliers’ struggles in round one of the playoffs could be chalked up to a young and athletic team punching above their weight, with the Cavaliers more than willing to meet the challenge.

The elimination game that’s about to happen on Friday? This feels like a product of fatigue against an injury-riddled Boston team that refuses to quit.

That was never more apparent than during multiple instances in Game 5 where James looked exhausted. His breathing was labored, he constantly had his hands on his hips and he was seen hunched over several times. On offense, where James presumably expends the most energy, he was caught on more than one occasion walking slowly up the court.

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Even a closer look at the box score implies that fatigue is settling in for James. Yes, he had a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field. But he also went 1-for-6 from the three-point arc with a lot of shots falling short, a telling sign of tired legs on a jump shot. He also had six incredibly sloppy turnovers at crucial times, with just five assists.

With both the anecdotal and statistical evidence mounting, it’s worth asking if James is finally getting tired after playing 82 games for the first time in his career.

“I had my moments,” James told reporters after the game, per ESPN. “I think everybody at this point is tired or worn down.”

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Almost as if he realized that he just admitted to some sort of wrongdoing, James changed his tune a little later.

“I’m fine,” James said. “I didn’t mention fatigue, (the media) did.”

James’ coach, Tyronn Lue, didn’t seem nearly as convinced that James was “fine.”

“He looked a little tired to me,” Lue said. “(I have) no concerns. You’ve got to be ready to play now.”

“We throw a lot of different bodies at him,” Celtics forward Marcus Morris, who has drawn the primary assignment of defending James, said. “And he does a lot for his team — scores, assists, rebounds. I would think he gets a little tired.”

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Outside of the NBA fraternity, fans and pundits haven’t been nearly as understanding about James’ potential fatigue.

Interestingly, some have speculated that James may be more spent emotionally than he is physically. After all, if James knows about anything, it’s basketball. So he’s painfully aware that even if the Cavaliers somehow slip past a Celtics squad missing its two best perimeter players, they have virtually no shot against a loaded Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets team barring injury.

That being said, if James is unable to beat the Celtics on Friday night, he’s going to have a long offseason to rest up.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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