LeBron James struggled in the Miami Heat's Game 4 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, scoring just eight points on 3-11 shooting. It was the first time since 2007 he was held to single-digits in scoring; while the move to Miami was partly meant to lighten his offensive load, putting up a Jason Kidd line in the NBA Finals wasn't exactly the plan.
Beyond the stat sheet, LeBron seemed to be less active than in the first three games of the championship series, and didn't make his presence felt in the fourth quarter. That begs a question: was LeBron just lazy, or is he legitimately exhausted from playing too many minutes?
LeBron rested for two minutes and 17 seconds in Game 4; over the series, he's sat for a total of 16 minutes and 10 seconds, playing an average of about 44 minutes a game. He's played more than 45 minutes in eight of the Heat's last 14 games. He hasn't played this many minutes in a season -- regular and postseason combined -- since the Cavaliers' Finals run four years ago. Could the strain of almost never resting be wearing on James?
For what it's worth, LeBron did complain of a lack of rest during the regular season, when Erik Spoelstra often leaned on him to play more than 40 minutes a night. James finished No. 6 in the NBA in total minutes in the regular season and is No. 1 in playoff minutes by a huge margin (836 to No. 2 Chris Bosh's 756). Exhaustion will hardly be an excuse for critics, though, especially considering Michael Jordan's legend and the fact that Dirk Nowitzki played (and exceeded) despite the flu on Tuesday.
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