Maybe LeBron Was Resting His Elbow at End of the Regular Season

Easily the most discussed and scrutinized body part this post season in the NBA has been LeBron James’ elbow. I noted that LeBron’s right elbow seemed to limit him in Game 1 against the Celtics, a contest in which LeBron scored 35 points in a comeback win. Game 2 was a similar story for LeBron, only The King didn’t have the same juice in the second half as the Celtics slammed the Cavs to even the series. Moreover, LeBron seemed to be favoring his elbow and holding it by his side as if it were in a sling. He also reportedly had his third MRI on the elbow in 10 days, which is a ton of radiation to undergo in such a short period of time. Anyone who has watched these games can see that LeBron is hurting and that the elbow is limiting his game. So why bring all this up aside from mentioning how it will impact the Cavs/Celtics series? Perhaps the ailing elbow explains why LeBron missed games at the end of the regular season.

LeBron James skipped the last four games of Cleveland’s regular season to rest his bod (all four games were losses). Missing the games wasn’t much of an issue for the Cavs because they had already clinched the best overall record in the NBA and the home court advantage throughout the playoffs that comes with it. While I felt the Cavs should have thrown all their best weapons, including LeBron, at the Magic in their second to last game of the season, I had no problem with LeBron sitting out games to rest. As a general rule, I support teams who rest their players to prevent injuries, regardless of sport.

LeBron took a ton of flack from media members for sitting out the last four regular season games. Tim Povtak of Fanhouse even said he would not vote LeBron James for MVP because he sat out those four games. I didn’t understand that logic and I felt Povtak’s bashing of LeBron didn’t take into account the possibility that James was sitting out those games to rest an undisclosed injury. Now that we’ve seen what’s going on with LeBron’s elbow, I have a feeling that’s why he was sitting out those games towards the end of the year. It puts LeBron in a bad spot because you don’t want to make excuses or make a body part a target for your opponents, but it’s hard to sit there quietly while you’re getting bashed. Injuries people keep quiet is one reason you have to be careful when you’re criticizing athletes for their play, or lack thereof.

LeBron James’ Elbow Is a Real Problem

One of the most scrutinized body parts in the NBA since Shaq’s toe has been LeBron James’ elbow. The right elbow has been bothering him for some time (perhaps why he rested the end of the regular season?) and it bothered him so badly he shot a free throw left-handed at the end of Game 5 Wednesday against the Celtics. An MRI on the elbow recently revealed a strain and a bone bruise. James still practiced with his team leading up to their Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Celtics and participated in shootaround prior to Game 1. The lingering issue leading into this series was the status of LeBron James’ elbow and it seems to be manifesting itself as a major problem for the Cavaliers.

In the first half of Game 1 against Boston, LeBron only took two outside jumpers and one was an emergency heave as the shot clock was expiring. He went an entire quarter and a half before shooting a jumper. That span includes a moment where an offensive rebound went right into his hands and he had a wide open look just in front of the free throw line. Nobody was around him yet LeBron didn’t even look to shoot. LeBron got to the basket like usual and seemed to go left and try and finish with his left hand most of the first quarter. That seemed to be a non-issue as LeBron drove and finished more with his right hand in the second quarter. James was also 6-7 at the free throw line shooting all of them right handed, but the bottom line is he was shy about taking jumpers.

Although LeBron’s outside shooting seemed to the lone weakness in LeBron’s game, it still is a weapon that he has and needs to utilize. He doesn’t seem to have it and it’s hurting the Cavaliers (not to mention their inability to guard Rajon Rondo).

UPDATE: LeBron began taking outside shots with regularity in the second half and helped the Cavs win Game 1. Maybe he got some treatment on it at halftime because he showed it wasn’t a problem during his stellar second half performance.

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