LeBron James hasn’t been swayed much by the Cleveland Cavaliers’ early season struggles.
“We have an opportunity to be very good and then you see some of the lulls that we have and it’s just very difficult on our team right now,” James told ESPN following Wednesday night’s 124-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Cavs’ fourth straight defeat.
Equally alarming is the way the perennial Eastern Conference power has gone down, dropping the four games by nearly an average of 16 points. Three of those losses have come on the Cavs’ home floor, stunningly to the likes of the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, and Pacers.
Still, during a recent interview where he sought to put his finger on the problem, James insisted he isn’t about to go haywire over any of it.
“We’re just trying to figure it out on the fly,” he said. “So, our team is kind of depleted as well, both on and off the floor.”
And the early season hits keep on coming. Tristan Thompson went down in the first half against the Pacers with a left leg injury and didn’t return. He left the arena on crutches and is scheduled for an MRI.
But through it all, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue saw glimmers of hope against Indiana.
“The other games we just got our butts kicked,” he said. “Tonight, I thought we did some good things. We just couldn’t sustain it. But the other games we just flat out got our butts kicked, so, seeing improvement.”
Against the Pacers, James netted 33, becoming just the sixth player in NBA history with 400-plus 30-point games, joining the elite ranks of Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
But James’ historical night came with eight turnovers, something he knows won’t help the Cavs’ get over their doldrums anytime soon.
“Eight for myself, that’s way too many,” he said. “I have the ball in my hands a lot, so I have to be very careful with my decision-making.”
Overall, the Cavs had 16 turnovers and allowed the Pacers to swish 16 threes from the beyond the arc.
“Sometimes the ball just didn’t bounce our way,” James said. “A lot of our possessions were well-guarded, they just made them.”
Struggles or not, James insists he isn’t about to stop being who he’s always been going forward.
Now in the final year of his second stint with the Cavs, James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, recently shared all that matters to the four-time league MVP in plotting his long-term future is the prospect of winning.
“Could he sell a few more sneakers if he was in a gigantic market like Boston, Chicago, New York, or L.A.,” Carter said. “Maybe. But not as much as if he wins. What matters the most is if he wins. When you win as an athlete that matters the most.”
[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]