The Miami Heat trail the Dallas Mavericks three games to two, as they head back to Miami for game six on Sunday. The extra day of rest may do LeBron James wonders as the numbers so far in the playoffs suggest that he is tiring late in games.After game three, James was asked if was “shrinking” in the fourth quarters, something LeBron took exception to. But after five games against the Mavericks, James is averaging just 2.2 points per fourth quarter, or a grand total of 11 points.
Is he shrinking. Who knows. But he may be getting tired.
During the regular season, James played at least 40 minutes in 41 of the 79 games he played. In those games, he averaged 32.1 points per 48 minutes. In 36 games, he played 30-39 minutes. In those games his production went up to 33.9 points per 48 minutes.
In the playoffs, the difference has been even more pronounced.
Of the 20 games played so far by the Heat in the postseason, James has played 40+ minutes in 17. In those games, he is averaging 25.6 points per 48 minutes. That is well-off his regular season pace. But in the three games with less than 40 minutes played, he is averaging 29.4 points per 48 minutes. That’s still below his regular season numbers, but nearly four points better than when he tops 40 minutes played.
If the Heat are going to win the NBA Title, they need LeBron to pick up his game, especially in the fourth quarter. And if LeBron is going to be more effective, he will need to play less.
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