Numbers Show that LeBron James Carries Cavs More than Any Finals Team

lebron-james-bench-1Much has been made about how LeBron James has carried this Cleveland Cavaliers team into the 2018 NBA Finals. And this was put on full display in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.

He scored 35 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out nine assists as Cleveland triumphed 87-79 in Game 7 at TD Garden. Many picked the Celtics to win, given that they had home court and a more-complete game. But in the end, LeBron got solid contributions from key role players and this was enough to advance.

“I know I get a lot of the headlines – win, lose or draw, whatever the case may be,” LeBron said after the game. “But in order to be successful, it’s a team game. I learned that from when I first started picking up a basketball to play organized basketball at age 9.”

Basketball does take five players to win. And LeBron has some solid NBA teammates. But the numbers show that LeBron is carrying his team at a historic level.

LeBron lays claim to 44% of Cleveland’s win shares in the 2018 playoffs. This is the fifth-highest percentage in history for a player who’s led their team to the NBA Finals. It’s the highest percentage since the ABA and NBA merged in 1976.

Here are both graphs that show the all-time win shares percentage among players who went to the Finals:

After Merger (First Graph) & Before Merger (Second Graph)

win-shares-after-merger

win-shares-before-merger

Has LeBron Carried a Finals Team More than Anybody Else?

lebron-vs-warriorsWin shares aren’t perfect by any means. And the stats above only indicate postseason win shares, meaning that the team may have played a bigger statistical role in the regular season.

But putting two and two together, it’s clear that LeBron has put Cleveland on his back. And few gave this unheralded roster a chance to make the 2018 NBA Finals.

Last year was easier for LeBron, because he could hand the keys to Kyrie Irving for long spells. However, Irving left in the offseason, and Kevin Love, the third option, is only averaging 13.9 points on 38.8% shooting.

What Happened to Cleveland’s Roster?

derrick-rose-lebronCleveland entered this year with an overhauled roster after falling to the Warriors in five games. But most of the players didn’t pan out, including Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas, who came over from the Boston Celtics in the Irving trade. Irving requested a trade, with many indications that he wanted to be the man on his own team.

The Cavs made yet another questionable move when they flipped Thomas and Crowder for George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson.

Hill has been a solid starting point guard. But Nance and Clarkson only played a combined 17 minutes in the Game 7 win over Boston, and Hood didn’t get off the bench.

Nance, Clarkson, and Hood could pay dividends next year. Plus, Cleveland netted the No. 8 overall pick in the Irving trade. But none of that is helping in the postseason.

Who can LeBron Rely on Against the Warriors?

LeBron may not have Irving to carry the offense. But he does have a few players who can give him a prayer against Golden State’s loaded roster.

Love hasn’t been great in the playoffs. But he has been an All-Star caliber player throughout most of his career. And he averaged 24.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in two contests against the Warriors this season.

Cleveland has other players who are capable of stepping up too. Kyle Korver is one of the league’s best three-point shooters and burned the Celtics many times coming off screens.

Jeff Green has played up to the potential he’s always offered over his career. And Tristan Thompson is still capable of dominating the glass.

Overall, this team is a far cry from the Warriors quartet of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Their bench is also outmatched by the Warriors’ reserves, who are among the league’s best.

But Cleveland will still do their best to make this a contest. And you can bet on all the 2018 NBA Finals action here at GTBets.

Steph Curry on LeBron’s Supporting Cast: “I Hate when People Say That”

lebron-steph-curryLeBron James has the NBA in awe right now after carrying his team past the Boston Celtics and into the 2018 NBA Finals. James willed his team to win a decisive Game 7 at TD Garden, earning him an eighth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

Many have praised LeBron, because he’s seen as carrying an unheralded roster to the Finals. This is especially the case in Game 7, where forward Kevin Love sat out with a concussion.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who’ll be competing against LeBron again in the 2018 Finals, weighed in on the matter. Curry has a different take on James’ supporting cast than many others.

“I hate when people say that,” he said. “Like it’s — they’re NBA players, and yeah they’re new and what-not and ‘Bron is amazing, (and) he played an unbelievable playoff run to date and has willed his team to his eighth straight Finals and all that, which is unbelievable to think about the consistency and the longevity and just the level of greatness that he’s shown in the Eastern Conference.”

Curry added, “As a basketball fan, to turn on the TV last night and watch the game and there were points in the game where you didn’t know how it was going to play out and they found a way to get it done, so shout-out to him. It was an amazing performance, but don’t disrespect the other guys out there. They fought hard too.”

Who’s in LeBron’s Supporting Cast?

As much as the Cavaliers’ support has been bashed, they came through in Game 7 against Boston. Jeff Green scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, JR Smith added 12 points, George Hill had a plus-24 rating, and Tristan Thompson had nine rebounds.

TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal noted that the Cavs didn’t get to the championship without contributions from players not named LeBron. And this reigned true in the deciding game of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals.

But one reason why Cleveland’s role players are criticized is because some of the younger players haven’t provided much. Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, and Rodney Hood all had larger roles on their previous teams. However, they’ve been footnotes on a Cavs team that’s making its eighth straight NBA Finals trip.

And it’s justified to say that LeBron does carry Cleveland often. He finished Game 7 with 35 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists. His playoff production has been off the charts too, as he’s averaged 34.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 8.8 APG, and 1.4 steals in 18 contests.

Cavs Warriors Odds in 2018 NBA Finals

As good as LeBron has been, not many people are giving he and the Cavs a chance to compete against Golden State. This is clearly reflected in oour GTBets odds for Game 1, where Golden State is a -13 (-107) favorite on the spread. They’re also a -893 favorite on the moneyline, which is astronomical for a Finals matchup.

LeBron and his supporting crew will have to play their best basketball night in and night out if they want to pull off the upset. If they can accomplish this, it would be one of the greatest upsets in sports history.