The problem is that it is almost too good. SBG Global Sportsbook agrees there has been a misconception since James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 that their greatest issue was building a defense. While that was, and remains, a major issue, a far greater one has plagued them in the postseason.

In 2014-15, the Cavs had a net rating of +9.8 with James on the court and -6.9 when he was off of it. In 2015-16, it rose to +11 with him on the court and -5.4 with him off of it.

On paper, the Kyrie Irving trade seemed likely to aggravate this problem. Remove the best scorer from a team that was missing ball-handling beyond James and they had no obvious means of scoring. But a funny thing happened when the season began. The bench ended up carrying the Cavs.

Is that a model that can win a championship? Perhaps not. The sample is so insignificant that it’s hardly sustainable anyway. But it has become apparent that James can’t rely on his teammates for much support when he’s playing. If he can’t rely on them to steal a few minutes of rest per playoff game, they aren’t going to last much longer. James has always done his job. It’s time for the rest of the team to follow.

By N.Cermak