How A Coaching Blunder Led To The LeBron James Turnover That Ended The Spurs-Cavs Game

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the San Antonio Spurs 92-90 in highly anticipated matchup on Wednesday night.

LeBron James had an off night, scoring just 15 points on 6-17 shooting and turning the ball over five times.

The fifth and final turnover is the one getting the most attention.

After Manu Ginobili missed a free throw with nine seconds left, the Cavs got the rebound and put it in LeBron’ hands down 92-90. The results were underwhelming. As he was trying to go coast-to-coast, LeBron fumbled his dribble and turned it over at midcourt to seal the win for the Spurs.

James rightfully took the blame for the turnover, and said after the game, “I felt like I could get to the rim probably, or either get a shot for myself or my teammates. Maybe I was thinking too much because I left the ball behind me.”

However, while the Cavs were still in a good position to win or tie the game when James turned it over, they could have had an even better shot had head coach David Blatt managed his timeouts more carefully.

In a 53-second span in the fourth quarter, Blatt burned the team’s final three timeouts in seemingly inconsequential circumstances.

  • The first came with 1:23 left in the game after Tony Parker hit two free throws to put the Spurs up 89-86. Blatt used a timeout, and in the following possession, LeBron got a layup.
  • The next came with 37.4 seconds left in the game after Parker’s layup was blocked by Varejao, who got the rebound.
  • The final came with 17.7 seconds left in the game after Ginobili hit a layup to put the Spurs up 91-88. Kyrie Irving was fouled on the inbounds and hit both free throws, making it 91-90 Spurs.

The Cavs fouled Ginobili to set up the final play, which resulted in a turnover by James.

Blatt, who is still adjusting to coaching in the NBA for the first time, said after the game, “I don’t take all the credit for anything. I’d like not to take all the blame for everything, but that’s part of my job so I have to do that.” And he’s right — it’s not entirely his fault. James had two turnovers in the final minute, the last of which was completely self-inflicted.

However, if Blatt had saved a timeout, the Cavs could have inbounded the ball at half-court and gotten a real shot, rather than making James go full-court while being pressed by Ginobili and Duncan.

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