Should a headband matter? Does it? It didn’t hurt that LeBron James started without it, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a huge 127-94 road win over the crumbling Dallas Mavericks.
James has had his moments without the headband that always cause attention to shift even more to his play without it and his receding (and changing) hair line. There was the previous game against the Suns, also a Cavaliers win, and there was the famous moment when he lost it in the 2013 NBA Finals game against the San Antonio Spurs, decided not to get back to it and actually played better without it on his head. Science.
James scored 27 points on 10-of-14 from the field, grabbed 7 rebounds and added 8 assists as he became the franchise’s all-time leader in assist, leaving Mark Price behind at second. James has been great in games against Dallas since the 2011 NBA finals, winning all of his seven encounters against the Mavericks while averaging 31.4 points and shooting 64.2% from the field. As if he still has something to prove when he faces Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle.
The Cavaliers did trail by four points after the first quarter, but went on to score 101 points in the next three including 41 in the second quarter. They shot 50.6% from the field and 46.9% from beyond the arc, scoring 25 points on the fast break and 23 off the 16 turnovers by the Mavericks. Kyrie Irving scored 22 points, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love both finished with 21. The Cavaliers got 108 points from their starters, the fifth time they’ve scored 100 points or more. The rest of the NBA has done it only nine times.
The Mavericks? Something bad is happening to this team, resulting in a long and angry rant from Amare Stoudemire, who was expecting to play for a winning team and not one that’s dangerously close to not making the playoffs. The Mavs have lost by 15 points or more three times in the last six days. It seems that the Rajon Rondo – Rick Carlisle friction isn’t the only problem this team is having. Missing Parsons and Chandler hasn’t helped, but they’re back, and it’s not an immediate fix.
The Cavaliers, easily seen, are headed in a different direction. The Raptors, Wizards and Bulls are all in some sort of professional crisis, which gives the Cavaliers a perfect opportunity to seal at least the second place in the East. They’re not going to blow past the Atlanta Hawks in the remaining 16 games.
As for LeBron James and his MVP? Steve Kerr is pushing Stephen Curry by not endorsing him while Daryl Morey is politicking hard in favor of James Harden. James has been just as good this season but of course, all three are in very different situations. It might have more to do with perception and the trendiness of the pick, which is something James might fall on. However, with the headband off, we might be seeing another surge of excellence from the best player in the NBA that will seal him the award for a fifth time.