The King and No Serfs

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are searching for answers (Courtesy of Twitter).

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are searching for answers (Courtesy of Twitter).

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By Alvin Halimwidjaya

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are searching for answers (Courtesy of Twitter).

The NBA playoffs are in full gear, with several first-round series tied at two games apiece. One of the more interesting matchups pits the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers against the upstart Indiana Pacers. Victor Oladipo is leading the offensive charge, Lance Stephenson is living up to his cult hero status and the Pacers’ defense has clamped down on the Cavs, forcing them to 32 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Cleveland remains the favorite in this first-round battle, but Indiana has broken open a spotlight and directed the bare bulb at LeBron James’ supporting cast and, you know, how much it absolutely sucks.

Kyle Korver knocked down two huge three-pointers to save the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit; however, it’s a clear sign of concern when the favorite in the East has to rely on a 37-year-old as their most consistent player after James. Kevin Love’s erratic play has kept Cleveland from keeping Indiana’s defense honest, and without anyone else knocking down their shots (looking at you J.R. Smith), the Cavs are going to have a hard time fending the Pacers off.

The painful truth is that LeBron is being pushed to his limit with this particular version of the Cavaliers. They have a weak bench and a coach who hasn’t developed a consistent offensive system in almost three years, meanwhile the Pacers have thrown a plethora of inspired defenders against James, from Thaddeus Young to Bojan Bogdanovic. Myles Turner is growing into an elite rim protector, and Stephenson keeps saving his best and most annoying level of play for the King. Even though the Pacers let Game 4 slip away from them and face the daunting challenge of winning two out of three games against LeBron, the wear and tear on James’ body is a legitimate concern. He played 46(!) minutes in Game 4; is he supposed to just keep lugging Cleveland and its plethora of problems on his back? There is no way LeBron can put up a fight against the Warriors or the Rockets if he’s forced to play 40-plus minutes for at least six games for three rounds.

In order to get their title hopes together, the Cavs need to find a way to salvage their offense and defense. You might say that that’s basically their entire gameplan, and I would tell you that you’re right, and that Cleveland is a trash heap with the biggest diamond in the world stuck on top (it’s Lebron, in case you didn’t get it.)

All jokes aside, everyone around LeBron needs to step up because he cannot do everything. Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson need to make their shots, someone needs to stop Victor Oladipo at the rim and J.R. Smith needs to stop thinking he can make every single stepback jump shot ever, whether it’s 20 feet or 30 feet away. Lebron might end up dragging the Cavs to an eventual series win over the Pacers, but they’ll need to do much better if they want to go deep into the playoffs and, more importantly, get Lebron to not leave Cleveland a second time.