Some things in common with the two Cleveland Cavaliers wins over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals so far? LeBron James playing better than usual, and the long rest between games.
James is averaging 36.5 points in the Cavs two wins, both coming after two days of rest. In the three losses? He’s averaging 22.3 points, never scoring over 25. His shooting is obviously much better when he gets to rest, making 53.5% of his shots on those two wins, and only 45.7% in the three losses. There are other factors in play here, but James has been huge in both wins, like Kyrie Irving, but Irving seems to fly solo. James, on both ends of the floor, has a much bigger impact.
During the regular season, James was at his best with 2 days of rest, compared to no rest, one day or more than three: He averaged 26.4 points in the 12 games after two days of rest. As he’s six months away from turning 32, it’s obvious that to be as dominant as he can be at his best, or could be on a more frequent basis, he needs days off. The Finals becoming more spread out, with two days in between switching cities, and more switches after moving from the 2-3-2 format to the 2-2-1-1-1, is benefiting James.
And guess what? Game 6 will be after two days of rest. Game 7, if the Cavaliers win at home, will also be after three days of rest. Maybe this is the most important factor in this series, and not Draymond Green getting suspended for too many flagrant fouls? It’s probably
all connected in the big circle of life all connected, but a rested James, with fresh legs to hit jumpers (when he makes those, he’s pretty much unstoppable) and stamina to take on players time after time as he attacks the basket, the Cavaliers are able to cancel out a lot of advantages the Warriors usually have, and allows Irving to play in a way that brings out the best of his strengths.