After a disappointing Game 5 loss in the NBA Finals, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers recalibrated and came out with an unstoppable energy in Game 6.
They shut down Jimmy Butler behind an incredible defensive effort that was spearheaded by James, and won in a blowout, bringing L.A. their 17th championship in franchise history. That James wound up defending Butler with plenty of frequency in the clinching game was no accident.
The Lakers had leaned on their defense after bad losses before, and they knew that in order to avoid a Game 7, they would have to do it again. And while Davis was the team’s emotional leader on defense all season long, James decided it would be his turn to take on that role in the most pivotal game.
Lakers veteran Jared Dudley paraphrased James when discussing what went into his decision to align his minutes with Butler’s after an all-time performance by the Heat star in Game 5, via “The Bill Simmons Podcast”:
“The regular season is different than the playoffs. ‘Those times when you go on those little 10-2 when I’m out of the game, you’re not getting that.’ LeBron said in Game 6, ‘Match my minutes with Jimmy Butler’s. When it’s winning time, you’re going to have to beat me the same amount of time.'”
James is known for his more methodical approach to regular season games compared to the playoffs. For years, James’ philosophy has been that it’s okay to sacrifice regular season losses in order to get a better game plan and preserve him body for when the games truly matter most.
Dudley revealed that this method from James isn’t even just a regular season thing, as he waited until the very last game of the NBA Finals to match minutes with the opposing star. Everyone who has watched his greatness over the past 17 seasons knows that his IQ is what separates him from the rest of the pack, and it shows in the biggest moments.
LeBron could sit first month of new season
Given that James will be entering his 18th season at age 36, he knows exactly what he needs to do to preserve his body. With recent reports that the 2020-21 season could begin as early as Dec. 22, Danny Green shed some light on James’ thought process.
He revealed that James and other veterans could potentially sit out the first month of the season, as a Dec. 22 start date would mean just a two month offseason.
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