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Now, I know what you're thinking: this is not an ideal defensive posture for the four-time MVP to adopt in the early stages of Tuesday's meeting with a Boston Celtics team that has been playing pretty well of late and is eager to establish itself as a legitimate challenger to the defending Eastern Conference champions. Moreover, it is a weird thing to just get your J.J. Redick on while ostensibly checking a dude who is about to shoot in an NBA game — the kind of thing that might get a less-respected player featured on blooper reels for years.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) December 16, 2015
There might be something to that, especially since this isn't the first time LeBron's taken this approach to closing out on a shooter in the corner:
People baffled by clip of Lebron running away from shooter - at least the 3rd time he's done that this season. Theory: it's a psych-out move
— Robert H (@bandwagonknick) December 16, 2015
There might be something to that, too. It's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that LeBron just looked at Jerebko — who, by the way, is shooting 27.7 percent over the past month — decided that getting him to step inside the line was defense enough, and that it was time to try to get out on the break, because playing in transition's an awful lot more appealing than playing against a set Boston defense that entered Monday ranked fourth in the NBA in points allowed per possession. (Jerebko did clank the jumper, although it didn't result in a fast-break opportunity going the other way.)
That was, after all, a pillar of the offensive attack with the Big Three Heat, as detailed in a May 2012 breakdown by Couper Moorhead of Heat.com:
Both James and [Dwyane] Wade play the probabilities when it comes time to decide whether to run out on the wing. They don't always have to know that their team has collected the ball, but they have to believe there is a high percentage chance of a HEAT player corralling the rebound before they leak out into transition. It's a similar relationship between gambling in passing lanes and playing straight up on defense. Players have to make the reads and weigh the risks and rewards of each situation within split-moments. Run the other direction too early, and that tipped rebound becomes an advantage possession for the other team.
But when James or Wade is confident that Miami will end up with the ball, they are off like bullets.
The best excuse for those responsibility-shirking leak-outs: they can lead to very easy, very loud buckets the other way, especially when you've got someone like Kevin Love cleaning the glass and firing the outlet pass.
Maybe there's a method to the madness, after all. ... or, maybe LeBron just didn't really feel like getting all the way up in Jonas' grill. Either way, really.
James scored a game-high 24 points on 10-for-20 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 36 minutes to lead the Cavaliers to an 89-77 win over the Celtics on Tuesday. Love added 20 points on 7-for-16 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal in 34 minutes in his first game back at TD Garden since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in a tangle with Boston's Kelly Olynyk in the third game of the teams' opening-round playoff series back in April. Cleveland clamped down on the C's in the second half, holding Boston to just 31 points on 26.2 percent shooting after intermission to win its third straight game and improve its East-leading record to 16-7 on the season.
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