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LeBron James had dominated the entire postseason ... until Game 3 vs. Celtics

James only scored 11 points on 13 shots in Game 3, which is bizarre.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James, who has spent this postseason obliterating his opponents and forcefully reminding them he’s the best player in the league, finally had a bad game. Understandably, the Cavaliers lost.

It happened on a final shot from Avery Bradley that received all sorts of luck to drop into the basket, and it certainly doesn’t change anyone’s outlook on this series. The Cavaliers are clearly still the favorites, and most people would still probably pick them in five games.

However, James scoring just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, six assists, and six turnovers is such an average, bland performance from him that it’s shocking. It’s not even so much a criticism as much as it is a reflection on how damn good the rest of his postseason has been — he came into this game averaging 34.3 points on 57 percent shooting with 8.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists.

Here are all the reasons we can think that James would have played this poorly.

  • He’s bored.
  • The absurd workload he has been carrying is starting to get to him a little bit. (He played 45 minutes on Sunday, the fourth time he has done that this postseason.)
  • He felt bad for the sports radio hosts who hadn’t been able to complain about him not being clutch or whatever it is they complained about until he repeatedly proved them wrong.
  • James isn’t worn out from the absurd workload but did plan on taking this game easy to make sure he wouldn’t get worn out, expecting an easy win anyway.
  • He got Thunderstruck and lost all his talent.

James cannot help but play smart basketball and the Celtics were clearly allowing other shooters to get open in the first half, but he still only attempted 13 shots. If James wanted to shoot more and involve himself in the game to a higher degree, he clearly could have. Something about his performance was just ... off.

This isn’t a concern or a worry, and it’s not an overarching problem or revelation into his career. There is some evidence that his strangely poor free throw shooting is affecting him slightly, and he did shoot just 3-of-6 from the line on Sunday. Still, James came into the game averaging 16 points in the paint this postseason and couldn’t even crack that total. James has been so dominant for literally weeks now that we almost forgot what a bad game from him even looked like.

Game 4 is in Cleveland again and James might just incinerate Boston for daring to blemish the Cavaliers’ perfect postseason. But for a game, the best player in the world looked pretty ordinary.