How much of the “LeBacle” is due to the elbow?

John Hollinger re-watched Game 5 and wrote a good piece about what may be going on with LeBron James. (Insider subscription required.)

James couldn’t make a jump shot. He tried 11 jumpers and made only one of them. Every miss was short — most of them well short — and a couple drifted off to the right. I suppose this could have happened just by chance, but a far more likely cause is that his elbow was bothering his shot.

I counted several others in which James had a clear opening for the jumper and turned it down. One could argue this was a reaction to his cold shooting, but that has never stopped him before. Instead, I would surmise that he knew his elbow limited his effectiveness as a jump shooter.

We have one other data point to support us: his track record in this series. Since Game 5 of the Chicago series, James’ effectiveness has correlated directly with how much rest he had between games.

Witness: Games 2, 4 and 5 came with just one day of rest; in those three, he shot 0-for-13 on 3s and 17-for-47 overall. Games 1 and 3, on the other hand, had an extra day of rest beforehand, which seemed to allow his elbow to feel much better: In those two contests, he was a one-man wrecking crew, making 26 of 46 shots from the floor and scoring 73 points. Needless to say, those were the two Cleveland wins in this series.

What it all means for the Cavs is rather worrisome because Thursday’s must-win Game 6 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) comes on one day’s rest again.

If rest is the key for LeBron, he’s going to have a tough time performing well in Game 6, and that gives the Celtics the advantage. It’s funny — heading into these playoffs everyone thought that a grizzled Boston team would play better with more rest, but with LeBron’s injury, the opposite seems to be true, at least in this series.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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