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Something Amazing Happened In C-Town

LeBron got some help.

April 30, 2018 - 11:14 am

Something truly amazing happened in Game 7 of the Pacers-Cavs series yesterday. I’m not talking about LeBron going for 45 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals while battling leg cramps. You knew that was going to happen. And I’m not talking about the Cavs winning. There was a pretty good chance of that happening. And I’m not talking about LeBron maintaining his perfect record of never being eliminated in the first round.

No, the truly amazing thing that happened in Cleveland’s 105-101 win was that LeBron got some help. Not a lot, mind you, but just enough. Incredibly, a few of the scrubs he’s been running with actually showed up.

Like Tristan Thompson, who was thrown into the starting lineup in a moment of genius or desperation from Ty Lue  and had a double-double. Or Kevin Love who had a few of clutch threes. Or George Hill who came back from back spasms to make key contributions in the second half.

I should be amazed by what I saw from LeBron yesterday, but the amazing thing is that I’m not amazed. I fully expected it. We’re spoiled. Nothing this guy does, even 15 years in, surprises anyone.

I fully expected at least 40 points. I fully expected nearly double digits in rebounds and assists. And that’s completely insane. Not just that he willed and dragged his team through the first round, but that everyone knew it was going to happen and nobody is the least bit surprised. 

As Victor Oladipo said afterwards: "He did what he always does. It's not really shocking. He's the best in the world, and that's what the best does and now I gotta work to get on that level."

Good luck, Vic. I mean that sincerely, because I know you’re probably already working out right now to get to that level, but LeBron is on a level that we’ve never seen before. 33 years old, 15 years in, and he’s doing this and it’s not a one-off, it’s a nightly thing. It is truly shocking and not at all shocking at the same time. 

I could sit here and talk about LeBron scoring 45 points on 25 shots on busted legs and when he should’ve been absolutely exhausted. But I’m more amazed by Tristan Thompson making 5 of 6 shots. 

I mean, I could talk about LeBron leaving the game with cramps, coming back in, and still being absurdly dominant, but I’m more stunned by the fact that Kevin Love and others didn’t completely fall apart while LeBron was in the locker room and on the bench. 

I could talk about the fact that LeBron truly is super-human and that his back must be tired from carrying the entire team into the second round, but I’m more surprised that George Hill was able to do anything because of his own back.  

Because LeBron going for 40-plus and nearly having another triple double was not a shock at all. Everyone knew that he had to do that for Cleveland to have a chance. As he said, showing up and dominating like that was “what the doctor called for, and I had to go out and try to make plays, and I did that."

The doctors also literally recommended that he have an IV at the end of the third quarter, but he shook that off. 

Tristan Thompson wasn’t surprised: “I thought I had a good motor, but his motor is unreal. He's got a Lamborghini motor."

T, respectfully, I know you played 35 minutes yesterday and that’s cool, but your motor is a lawn mower compared to LeBron’s. There were three games in this series that you didn’t even take off your warmups, so let’s not be hyping your motor. Or even comparing it to LeBron’s. 

But maybe the most surprising thing of all from yesterday was that LeBron admitted after the game that he’s tired: "I'm burnt right now. I'm not thinking about Toronto right now until [Monday]. I'm ready to go home. Can we? I'm tired. I want to go home."

Of course you’re tired. Anyone would be who had to put an entire team and town on his back and go up and down and play both ends of the floor. 40 minutes a night, 7 times.  Too bad it’s not sustainable. 

The Pacers were tough, and their future is obviously, bright, but right now, Toronto is better and it’s only going to get tougher for LeBron. That guy had to go with a super human effort just to get them out of the first round; there’s no way he does that three more times. And despite his unbelievable conditioning and the lengths he goes to take care of his body, I’m not even sure he can do it again in this series. But at least he gets the chance.

Because when he went to the locker room at the end of the third quarter and the Pacers had pretty much erased  the Cavs’ 14 point lead, it was inevitable that the scrubs he’s been running with were going to implode, cost them the series and LeBron would have played his last game for the Land. So the shock isn’t that LeBron showed up the way he did, it’s that Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and George Hill did.

Problem is, those guys can show up like that every single night and it still wouldn’t be enough to get them out of the east. Not unless LeBron can keep giving them 40 minutes and 40 points every single night. But even that guy can’t do that. For a round, sure, but not three more rounds. And maybe not even one more.