By taking two weeks off because of an injury and also to rest his weary body, LeBron James seems to be back in peak condition and form, which if he can keep up, will put the Cleveland Cavaliers a bit closer to making a difference in the Eastern conference playoff race and also place him back in the MVP discussion.
Because clearly, it’s hard not to see his value with the Cavaliers going 1-7 while he was out, losing by 10 points or more on five of those games. Since his return? The Cavaliers are 2-1, and their only loss came in a very close game against the Suns, followed by two wins in Los Angeles. Beating the Lakers doesn’t impress anyone these days, but a 126-121 win over the Clippers raised more than one eyebrow across the league, suggesting the Cavs should be taken seriously once again.
I know, for me personally, the two-week layoff, helped me out a lot. I’ve felt better in the last three games than I did the whole season, the whole 30-plus games that I appeared in. We’ve had a 2-1 record since I’ve been back, so hopefully we can continue on that path. We’re starting to pick it up and guys are starting to get healthy, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can become up until the All-Star break and even more than that.
James himself has played extremely well since coming back, averaging 33.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists while shooting 61.8% from the field. For all the improvement and changes the Cavaliers have made this offseason and in the middle of it, they need James to play at this or close to this level in order to get back on tract of putting up a challenge to the Hawks, Raptors, Wizards and Bulls, who have gotten away from them over the last three weeks.
At 21-20, the Cavaliers are 6th in the East, 12 games at the moment behind the Atlanta Hawks. As good as James has been and expected to be until Blatt finally gets himself an offensive system that doesn’t require a 30-year old player with too many minutes logged over the years to do everything himself, until they fix their appalling defensive ability (27th in the NBA), giving up 106.7 points per 100 possession, it’s hard to see them making a significant move up the standings.