While everyone is talking about James Harden, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook for MVP, LeBron James is just as worthy of the award this season, and if he doesn’t end up winning it for a fifth time it’ll have more to do with voters fatigue than actually being inferior in ability.
James scored 28 points and provided the spark for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they struggled for almost three quarters against the Milwaukee Bucks. It all began with a dunk off of a loose ball that cut the lead from nine to seven. From there? The Cavaliers completely took over, winning it 108-90 as their defense kicked into a higher gear.
James also added 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals on 10-of-17 from the field. He also turned the ball over five times. The difference between him and Westbrook for example is that it doesn’t feel too forced with James. A lot of the things he does look effortless, like his 40-foot heave (that didn’t count), hitting it as if it was a free throw (he actually has more problems making free throws).
Besides James, J.R. Smith was on fire with 23 points and 7-of-9 from beyond the arc. Kyrie Irving scored 20 to go with a team high 7 assists, something that wouldn’t seem possible at the beginning of this season. Kevin Love is still playing like something is bothering him. Maybe it’s not his back but something else. Nine points on 4-of-13 from the field, sadly, just isn’t very surprising anymore.
The Bucks, if they’re not careful, might find themselves actually falling out of the top 8 in the East. These days in the league, you never know who actually wants to succeed and how is tanking. Their starting lineup didn’t do all that badly in the loss, including 19 points from Michael Carter-Williams, but their bench, with just 16 points, was awful.
They barely got outscored by the Cavs’ bench, but that’s not the point. Playing against most teams in the league, the Cavaliers have a huge advantage whenever their lineup includes James, Irving, Mozgov and Smith (it’s debatable about Kevin Love). In order to beat them, teams need a much better night from their bench players in order to succeed. Turning the ball over so many times doesn’t help either.