Someone should remind LeBron James he chose to skip college and go straight to the pros because he hosted a March Madness of his own this past month. The victim? Anybody and everybody.
LeBron James went absolutely nuclear in March with a Cleveland roster that has had a difficult time with injuries. In leading the Cavaliers to 10 wins in 16 March games, James has posted absurd averages of 30.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He even had four triple-doubles for what it’s worth.
Combine those with shooting splits of 55.1 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from three, and this past month has been one for the record books. Even for LeBron, who finds himself practically a co-author of basketball record books.
LeBron passed Michael Jordan for most consecutive games with double-digit scoring when he played the Pelicans on March 30 (867 games). He was in his bag all month pulling out passes, dunks, shots, and dribble moves that are simply unstoppable when combined with his 6-foot-8, 260-pound frame.
James started the season as an MVP candidate, but the Cleveland turmoil reached its apex around the New Year and through January. Isaiah Thomas was as inaccurate as could have been predicted. Derrick Rose cemented himself as an on-court and off-court parasite. The locker room became a mess. Thomas called out Kevin Love over the severity of his injury.
Basically, they were awful, but this awfulness led to the Koby Altman blockbuster on Feb. 8.
With a new team, they needed a while to gel. By March, they had solid chemistry, but the East was looking more competitive than anticipated, and the Cavs were facing the possibility of falling somewhere between the fifth-and-seventh seed for the playoffs.
LeBron, as only he can, put the team on his back to make sure they were going to keep home-court advantage through at least the first round.
James needed to pull out everything in his arsenal, and he did not disappoint. He was clutch. He was explosive. He was a marksman. Let’s ask Jusuf Nurkic how LeBron has played:
The single most-powerful dunk of LeBron James’ career. Year 15. Jusuf Nurkic just saw his life flash before his eyes twice. pic.twitter.com/u6B9H1s2cb
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 16, 2018
Or you can ask the Lakers what it’s like to attempt to contain LeBron:
Assist of the Night: LeBron James fakes out the Lakers with a no-look to Ante Žižić! pic.twitter.com/tsdVReHNOF
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 12, 2018
You’ve heard it between 500-to-1,000 times this season, but LeBron is 33 and playing in his 15th season. If you include the postseasons, it’s closer to 17 or 18 seasons. Yet, that was quite possibly the best dunk of LeBron’s career. The explosion and distance of the takeoff, the peak of the jump, and power of the slam is just stupid. Replay that dunk with headphones and try to define the sound of the dunk. It’s a brand new sound that humans have never witnessed before.
He also posterized the Nets’ Joe Harris. He channeled Heatle LeBron with a windmill slam in Phoenix, taking off a little inside the free throw line. His clutch gene appears at an all-time high. Any game that came down to the wire seemed like it would be a Cavalier win.
Against the Pelicans—the same game that LeBron passed MJ for most consecutive double-digit games—he hit three straight fadeaways in the left mid-range within only minutes left to seal the game. With 3:19 remaining, he hit one over Ian Clark. With 2:41 remaining on the Cavs’ next possession, he hit a step-back over Solomon Hill. With 2:00 remaining on the very next possession, he hit another one over Ian Clark, putting the Cavs up seven. It was a game of free throws after that, and the Cavs pulled away.
Cavs fez a mesma jogada três vezes. Todas jogadas individuais pro LeBron.
Resultado vc já sabe…
— King James Brasil (@Le_BR_on) March 31, 2018
On March 19, the Cavaliers were up against the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. This was not only a potential playoff matchup but also a personal rivalry between the King and the Greek Freak. Giannis always gives everything against LeBron, but James was unstoppable. He posted a ludicrous triple-double with 40 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists. He also had a trio of threes and tied a season-high with five offensive rebounds.
It was another nice one down the stretch as well. With five minutes left, he hit a fading jumper over Giannis. A few minutes later, he took on the entire Bucks team for a game-sealing transition throwdown. That dunk is below:
🏀: Cleveland venció a Alces de Milwaukee por 124 puntos a 117, con 40 unidades de LeBron James, además de 12 rebotes y 10 asistencias. A pesar de la derrota, Bucks está en séptimo lugar de la Conferencia del Este en busca de calificar al playoff. pic.twitter.com/QO7m6vh8u2
— José Juan Vázquez (@jjangelv) March 20, 2018
Two days later, on March 21, the Cavs took on Toronto. The Raptors are top five in offensive rating, defensive rating, and net rating, which is the sweet spot for contending teams. They also are the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a crew that is 12 deep on a good day. But they can’t seem to take down LeBron regardless of their roster.
LeBron went supernova and led a second-half comeback behind a 35 point, 17 assists, no turnover monster of a game. That’s just not fair. It was almost exclusively inside the arc as well. He was 11-for-19 from the field and 12-for-14 from the stripe. Toronto had 79 points at the half, and among those who are skeptical of Cleveland’s chances, it did seem like the Raptors were sweeping the Cavs off the floor.
But it doesn’t work that way in the East. LeBron is King, and the Raptors are Cleveland’s practice opponent. Just ask the last three seasons of Raptors. With half the fourth quarter remaining, and the Raptors up 112-110, LeBron took Jakob Poeltl to school, crossing him up and jamming a dunk home. The next possession, George Hill hit a three off a LeBron pass. The next possession LeBron hit a cutting Love for a lay in. One minute later, he split Pascal Siakam and Poeltl for an uncontested dunk. One minute later, LeBron hit a pair of free throws to put Cleveland up five.
The next possession, LeBron got fouled on a three and hit two of the free throws. The game-sealing play with 28 seconds left was a LeBron drive and kick to Love for an open three that he knocked down, putting Cleveland up four. The game became a free throw contest and Cleveland pulled out a comeback win over the first seed behind LeBron’s superstar performance.
LeBron was magnificent even away from home. In Denver against the Nuggets, LeBron pulled out another insane stat line of 39 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists, with only three turnovers, while nailing five threes. No one was able to even slow him down, let alone stop him.
Wilson Chandler is too weak. Gary Harris is too short. Paul Millsap is not quick enough. Will Barton had no chance. Nikola Jokic is not in the same athletic solar system. When the game was close with 1:41 remaining, LeBron hit an and-one layup on Jokic to put the Cavs up five. With 1:11 remaining on the next possession he cashed a three to put Cleveland up five once again. With 40 seconds left, he canned a fading jumper on the left side over Chandler to put them up five again. With 9.5 remaining, the King hit an even more difficult contested fadeaway over Chandler, and the game was over.
Every game. Every night. LeBron was simply too much to handle for anybody. Even in the six games they lost LeBron still averaged 26.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists on 49.2 percent shooting.
Offensively, LeBron is having the best season of his life. The scoring, passing, athleticism, and clutch domination is seriously on a whole new level, and the postseason is a mere two weeks away. Like LeBron said, it doesn’t matter what seed the Cavaliers are, if LeBron James enters your building, you’re in for a hell of a challenge.
“Listen, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m a 6 seed, a 3 seed, a 2 seed or an 8 seed, If I come into your building for a Game 1, it will be very challenging.”Lebron spits truth. pic.twitter.com/kqSB92GHwT
— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) March 8, 2018