LeBron James averaged 34 points, 10 assists, and 8.5 rebounds for the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but it wasn’t enough as the Warriors swept them in four games to take home second straight title.
His production, at least as a scorer, tapered off significantly after Game 1, as he scored 29, 33, and 23 points in the final three games of the series after a 51-point outburst. His effectiveness and efficiency went down, and there may be a reason beyond just the overwhelming Warriors defense for why that was.
After Game 4, Sam Amick of USA Today reported James had suffered a severe bone bruise following Game 1 that he had been playing through, and that the injury was of his own doing after punching a board after that brutal Game 1 loss.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported the same, and also included a note that James has been wearing a soft cast between games while not around the media.
James confirmed the injury in his post-game press conference, telling reporters he essentially was playing with a broken right hand.
It’s pretty incredible for James to have hidden that injury for three games, but also not totally surprising given that he shakes off injuries all the time in games — like an apparent sprained ankle in Game 3. In any case, it appears James wasn’t operating at full strength and dealing with an injury on his shooting hand certainly couldn’t have helped his cause, which had to be playing at an unreal level to give his team even a chance of winning a game.