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If Ben Simmons ever started taking 3-pointers regularly, he would look like what we are seeing from LeBron James in the NBA Playoffs.
Le-Brick has missed his last 19 straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarters of the Lakers’ 14 playoff games this postseason. He made his first one in the fourth quarter against Memphis in the opening round and is 1 of 20 overall since for .05%.
L.A. won its first two series against Memphis and Golden State despite his tired arches, but the Lakers are down 2-0 going into a critical game Saturday in Los Angeles (8:30 p.m., ABC).
James is 0 for 10 in all quarters from 3-point range in his two games against Denver. Perhaps, Lakers coach Darvin Ham can tell him, “Hey, LeBron, lay off the 3s, particularly late,” if that can happen in the NBA with a legend like LeBron. Or maybe a teammate?
Simmons, by the way, is 5 for 36 (13%) in his NBA career from 3-point range.
James Does Do A Lot, But Should Take Fewer 3s
LeBron James does a lot throughout the scoring line, obviously, with consistent, significant numbers in minutes, points, assists, free throws and rebounds with even decent totals in steals and blocks. He penetrates and creates so well, still at 38. But he’s killing his team with the 3-pointers. And his late fumbles late in the last two games and his fastbreak flub Thursday did not help either.
LeBron James also does a lot on defense, which leads to him getting tired. This is why he starts throwing up the 3-pointers late. After guarding Denver’s Nikola “The Joker” Jokic or another key player, you can almost see him thinking:
“Should I drive in again? No, I’m going to try to pop a 3.”
Ham needs to figure a way to get James some critical rest as the game goes on – either by putting him on an easier player or putting him on the bench for just a few. Rui Hachimura has had some success against Jokic. That has to be the answer if the Lakers are going to make this a series beyond four or five games.
LeBron James Needs Some Defensive Relief
Either Rui or Batman. Because the Joker may not be able to be stopped for long. He is coming off back-to-back triple-doubles with 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists in the 132-126 opening win over Los Angeles and 23, 17 and 12 in the 108-103 win Thursday. He is the first player in NBA Playoff history with four straight triple-doubles with 20 points or more in those games.
In just his eighth season, Jokic, 28, is already third all-time in NBA Playoffs history with 13 triple-doubles behind Magic Johnson (30) and James (28).
James, who has one year remaining after this one on his Lakers’ contract with an option for 2024-25, can see the end. But there is still a good amount in his tank. A little more blow and less threes could make this season last longer.
But it’s not looking promising despite the Lakers’ return home. Los Angeles’ loss Thursday marked the first time they have dropped back-to-back games since March. And 0-2 teams in the NBA Playoffs’ conference finals history have lost the series 56 times out of 62.
Two of those six teams who overcame 0-2 and won the series had something in common. LeBron James was on both teams – Cleveland in 2007 and Miami in 2018.
But he is not younger than that now.