Cleveland Cavaliers: Can LeBron James trust his teammates?

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The NBA Finals have become a “trust test” for LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates

LeBron James is a once in a generation type player that has the ability to make mediocre teams into championship caliber teams. This year’s version of the Cleveland Cavaliers is no different. Not many people expected them to get to the NBA Finals this season.

After each game the play of the Cavs tends to be about how well LeBron James played and what do the “rest” of the team did to help. The talk is usually about how bad the role players played and how James saved the day.

James has always expressed his ability to trust his teammates and has constantly preached that the Cavs would be sitting at home if they did not play as a team. After the Cavs beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals SBNation wrote about how James felt towards his team.

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"“After the game, LeBron discussed how many people try to “kill” his teammates and the lack of help he receives. But he trusted them, and said with a confidence only he could have, “That’s why we’re going to another Finals, because my teammates played a hell of a game.”"

As Cleveland goes down 2-0 to the Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals the talk of James’ teammates are once again becoming the topic to help explain the losing. Game 1 could be used as exhibit A as to why James should not trust his teammates due to missed free throws and mental lapses late in the game.

Game 2 of the NBA Finals did not offer has many obvious breakdowns as the first game. There were signs to help back up James’ belief that he is able to trust his teammates.

In Game 2, the “other” Cavs scored on 15 out of 30 scoring attempts where James set them up to score. LeBron ended up with 13 assists for the game and 4-4 from the foul line on scoring attempts set up by him.

Scoring on 50 percent of plays set up by James can be considered a “trustful” night during the regular season but this is the Finals against one of the best offenses in the NBA. In order to win a championship a team has to step up and do something extraordinary.

Making uncontested shots is something James’ teammates need to do a better job with. The “other” Cavs were set up for 12 uncontested shots by James. They missed five of those uncontested shots. For a team to be on the verge of winning a championship they need to be almost perfect when it comes to uncontested shots.

There are also teammates who James should lean on more than others. He seems to enjoy getting everyone involved in the game. During a championship run only the teammates who prove trustful enough during games should get the ball.

The player James tried to set up the most was Kevin Love and he responded with 22 points. Nine of those points came from a LeBron James pass. James hit Love seven times and he scored on four of those catches. Love also missed one uncontested three point shot in the middle of the second period.

George Hill was the hottest Cav in the first half and that was due to James getting him the ball. James help set up four of Hill’s five made field goals. He finished with 15 points and made all of his uncontested attempts.

The third most trusted Cav from Game 2 was Tristan Thompson. He was 3-3 playing off of James. All three of his baskets were going towards the rim for a dunk. When Thompson is getting easy looks like this the Cavs are moving off the ball and playing well. Thompson’s last attempt from James came in the third quarter. Right before the Cavs began to fall apart.

The most untrusted teammate for Game 2 was JR Smith. After his Game 1 mishaps, that is probably no surprise at all. Smith was only 2-7 when James try to set him up to score. He also missed all of his uncontested shot attempts.

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There are Cavs players that LeBron James can trust but the problem is none of them are consistent enough to rely on for every game. James needs to decide which teammates he can trust early each game then go to them as much as possible. Setting the right teammates up to score should give the Cleveland Cavaliers a chance to get back into the series.