LeBron Cost the Cavs Game 2.

The Sports Talking Heads’ (hereafter known as “the Swarm”) narrative for Game 2:

LeBron was heroic, did everything one could hope for to win the game, delivered the awesome LeBron game we expect, his greatness continues. They lost because of the Cavaliers’ “garbage”  defense and lackluster performances from his supporting cast. 

No one suggested that LeBron in any way contributed to his team’s loss. We at +DISPATCH saw it another way. 


A Contested/uncontested shot should not count as a way of discerning the effectiveness of a team’s defense. Sports pundits conclude that the Cleveland defense is “garbage” because they allowed the Celtics so many uncontested shots.

“What does it matter if the shot was contested or not? What matters is whether it went in or not, right?” The Celtics contested LeBron at every opportunity. That was their strategy. They were there to slow him down, make it hard for him.

The guy scored 21 points in the first quarter and some of that contesting led to a foul, giving LeBron the opportunity for an old-fashioned three-point play.

More points scored  = bad defense


Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, right, drives past Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James in the first half

Game totals for the “contested”

LeBron: 42 points, 16/29 from the field, 55.8 FGM%, 12 assists, 10 rebounds. In and of itself, the contested/uncontested stat is meaningless.

NBA players often leave an outside shooter uncontested.

They’re not going to leave their stronger inside defensive alignment, which may include a double team on a superstar until you prove you can hit that outside shot consistently.

That’s not lazy or stupid, it’s smart defense.

They will also, on occasion, let the other guy have his lay-up, his slam dunk, without contesting it.

It’s not worth it. Like it’s not worth not chasing everything down toward the end of a blowout loss. That is the smart choice sometimes.

Contested/uncontested has no intrinsic value. It’s all situational.


On the other hand, the field goals made percentage (FGM%) is a, if not the, top stat for evaluating a defense. Points allowed per game is a top-of-the-list stat as well. But that point total is not a constant. It is relative to how high-scoring an offense you have. 99 PPG may be great for the Spurs, but 102 PPG may be great for the Warriors. The FGM%, on the other hand, is a number equally applicable to all teams. But the Swarm line for Game 2 is: “Uncontested shot totals” condemn Cleveland. Boston played great defense, Cleveland was “garbage”. Make up your own mind using the stats that really count. FGM%.

Boston held Cleveland to 46% shooting.That is Great defense?

Cleveland held Boston to 43% shooting.  That is “Garbage” defense?

It appears that, contested or not, Cleveland did a better job defending against Boston shooting than Boston did against Cleveland shooting.

Just the facts, ma’am. (BTW, just for perspective: Indiana, the Number 1 ranked Defense in this postseason, held opponents to 43.4 FGM%.The Cavs held Boston to 43.5 FGM%. I know. Garbage.)

Reboundin: Just about even in total. Boston a little better with Offensive rebounds, Cleveland a little better with Defensive rebounds.

So, how is it at the end of the game Boston had more points than Cleveland? The blame for the loss lies with the Cavs Offense, not their Defense.

There are two fundamentals of the game that in this case were decisive – and I have not heard one member of the Swarm pay attention to them. Not one. If you know the game, you really have to wonder. These axioms are so fundamental, one would think they would have to be part of the coverage. But the Swarm is in crickets mode.

Axiom 1: The offense must take care of the ball.

If they turn the ball over, that’s not on the defense. And turnovers are bad.

Axiom 2: Get to the line and make your free throws.

The offense is also almost entirely responsible for getting to the free throw line and making free throws.

Those two parts of the game can make the difference between winning and losing, and in Game 2, that is exactly what happened.

Read it and weep if you are a Cavs fan.

Boston 17/20 from the line. Cleveland 10/17 from the line. Cleveland -7.

Make the free throws and it’s a 107-101 game. Keep reading.

Turn-overs (TOV): Boston 5, Cleveland 15. Ouch. Cleveland +10.

Boston had 12 more shot attempts in Game 2. So, even though they had a lower FGM%, they compensated for that with more attempts. How did they get more attempts? They had 12 more possessions than the Cavs. How did that happen? Well, 10 of the 12 can be accounted for by the TOV.

Think of it, 10 more opportunities than the Cavs. Make that real for yourself. Imagine the Celtics having the ball, scoring or trying to score, then given the ball back again 9 times before the Cavs can take possession. That is the reality of TOV. Think that had an effect on the game? Of course it did. Well, LeBron was responsible for 7 of those TOV. Celtics had 5 for the whole team for the entire game. LeBron on his own committed 7 TOV. The Swarm’s response? Crickets. No mention.


To make silence on this even weirder, LeBron is known to have problems with committing TOV. Google “LeBron turnovers.” Someone outside the Swarm would matter of factly say, “Well, it’s not like this hasn’t been a problem for him in the past.” And then cite several games, like the ones you’ll see mentioned if you go to Google. But the Swarm apparently doesn’t see any of this. LeBron is a Gulliver of a basketball giant being held down by a Lilliputian defense and supporting cast. He had nothing to do with the loss, in their eyes.

Free throws. Team: 17 attempts. Lilliputian teammates went 5/7. LeBron went 5/10. And yes, free throw trouble also is not a new subject for LeBron. Google it. You’ll see.

So, first, what lost the game for the Cavs, their defense or their offense?  If the offense hadn’t turned the ball over 15 times and had made their free throws, do you think they would have won? The difference at the end of the game was 13 points. Think about it. What do you say?


LeBron. You have two parts of his game that have been problematic before revisiting him here in Game 2. I think they played an integral part to the Cavs loss. The Swarm doesn’t even mention them. LeBron is the greatest of the Great. Period. but can you think of a postseason where Magic, Jordan, Bird Dr.J or any other star shot 50% from the free throw line and also committed 7 turnovers?

Can you think of a postseason game where Magic, Jordan, Bird, Dr. J, or any other star shot 50% from the free throw line and also committed 7 turnovers?


If LeBron had made his free throws and not turned the ball over 7 times, do you think the Cavs might have won? One thing is undeniable: committing 7 TOV and shooting 50% from the free throw line hurts your team’s chances of winning. What’s debatable is how much. I am A HUGE Lebron James fan.. and Lebron James is probably the best in the league, but Game 2 was horrendous.. Not sure why no one is talking about how he is the reason, and not the Cavs D.