LeBron James hypercritical of his performance in Game 1 victory
In a playoff performance that would be a career-best for most players in the NBA, LeBron James still found plenty to criticize in his 31-point, eight-rebound, six-assist night on the court in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 97-89 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Most of James’ unhappiness with his play revolved around how he played too much on his own during the fourth quarter, which contributed to the Hawks slashing the Cavs’ lead from 18 points to just four.
“In the fourth quarter, I played way too much isolation basketball, one-on-one basketball [with] a lot of the defenses set, and I was letting the clock run down way too much,” James said according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
He also reportedly provided a much harsher assessment of his play to FOX Sports Ohio’s Allie Clifton after the game, saying, “I allowed them back into the game with my offensive nonsense.”
James attributed his over-reliance on isolation plays on the fact that point guard Kyrie Irving was limited to only 27 minutes after tweaking his knee in the third quarter.
“It’s tough sometimes with our main ball handler not being on the floor, and that’s Kyrie,” he said. “That’s something that I’m not happy with, something I’m not really comfortable with doing.”
While the outcome was a positive one despite James condemning himself for selfish play, that game plan may not be as effective throughout the series, as Irving cannot expect to instantly recover from myriad injuries in the span of a few days. James seems to understand that.
“I’ll be more conscious about that in Game 2 if that opportunity presents itself, where at least I can get the ball moving to start [the possession] and then maybe at the back side or like the third option, I can get it back at the end,” he said. “At least we get the defense moving instead of them just watching me pound the ball for 24 seconds. That’s not good basketball.”
And with his Cavaliers teammates feeding off his play, James can create a sea change on how they perform on the court by making a few adjustments.
Still, he considers a 31-point game in a playoff road victory a bad game? It’s a good problem, especially when he iced the game with this ferocious dunk:
(image via CBS Sports)