Truth be told I didn’t watch the Cavs vs the Pacers last night.  Or let me rephrase, I didn’t feel compelled to lose sleep over what I felt was inevitable.  It was obvious to me that LeBron would come to play and ball out hard, which he did.  And I knew the Cavs would wind up winning a close game because they’re at home.  And low and behold, Indiana had a chance in the closing moments and missed a game-tying three that could have pushed OT.

But don’t let my apathetic behavior allow you to get things twisted when it comes to how important this series is.  The NBA, ESPN, TNT, and every other media outlet is pegging this as must-see theater.

And they’re right!

This Cavaliers team might be the worst defensively we’ve seen in Cleveland for more than two decades.

This isn’t your typical LeBron James team that you’ve seen in the past.  There isn’t a secondary scorer like Kyrie Irving who is willing to take the scoring burden off of JamesKevin Love isn’t in his familiar role as the third option who can rebound, hit open three-pointers, and ignite a fast break.  Oh and by the way, he has a partially torn ligament in his thumb.  And the role players of Rodney Hood, George Hill, and Jordan Clarkson are playing terribly defensively.

Speaking of defense, this team is tied with Phoenix in defensive efficiency. They needed a superhuman performance by LeBron to beat the Pacers by three and weren’t playing on the road.

All of this leads me to believe that an early exit is quickly on the horizon for LeBron.  And the league will be just fine for it because the league no longer needs LeBron to be viable.

Consider the fact that there are better, more entertaining teams to watch like the Warriors and Rockets.  There are up and coming teams with transcendent youthful players like Boston with Jason Tatum and Philadelphia with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.  There are good veteran teams like Portland and Minnesota.  Anthony Davis is playing like the guy we thought he could be carrying his team to a possible first-round sweep of the Blazers.

Even the most compelling game last night was headlined by a rookie in Donovan Mitchell out-dueling a star-studded OKC team lead by Russell Westbrook.

No, Lebron’s well-sculpted shoulders no longer need to carry the burden as the face of the league.

The NBA is in great hands without LeBron front and center.  And that’s not a bad thing.

 

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