I was struck, amazed, really, by what the Cavs had to resort to in their recent series against the Celtics. As they had last year when they finished off the Pistons, what turned out to be the Cavs’ best offense was give the ball to LeBron, have guys cut and curl and not ever get open, here and there, and then let The King have his way. Worked last year, didn’t this.
I know, I know, this happens in the NBA. Great one-on-one offense trumps defense but what I was watching and, especially, the duration that it transpired – THE WHOLE GAME – is what shocked me.
Add to this spectacle the fact that Paul Pierce, Game 7, was matching LeBron’s production, hoop-for-hoop, and it got really interesting. At game’s end, I began to wonder how many of LeBron’s baskets came via an assist, and how many of Pierce’s had an assist attached. Looked up the box score on-line and then the play-by-play and there it was: none of LeBron’s 14 hoops were assisted while 7 of Pierce’s 13 were.
You don’t have to be the second coming of Hank Iba to want to grab your whistle and line the boys up and run some plays, tell them that ball movement and player movement will win you games. Especially, especially when it gets this extreme. No one else could be entrusted to find LeBron coming off a screen, going backdoor for a flush, even a simple catch and score post-up?
Lastly, I’m thinking this is a record. I’m thinking no one has ever scored more baskets in a playoff game, or maybe even a regular season game, where not even one hoop came via an assist from a teammate. Tell me who: Wilt? Nah, he had Guy Rodgers setting assist records. Michael? He knew how to come off screens (Bobby Knight had a rule on the 1984 Olympic team that said Jordan couldn’t get the ball unless he screened first, then shaped up). Kareem? No, he wasn’t going one-on-one. Well, he was, but he was delivered to. Maybe Rick Barry. He was pretty selfish and could – outta my way – score like mad.
Here’s what else: I think that LeBron may be the most unassisted scorer in NBA history. Last year’s Game 5 against the Pistons? The double OT thriller in which James scored the final 25 points for the Cavs? 18 hoops just 1 assisted (from Big Z; I want to see the re-play!).