Though he was only an assist away from registering a triple double last night, LeBron James did not submit one of his typically super-human performances in the series closeout game against the Chicago Bulls.
And with the result no longer in doubt, James stepped up to the free throw line and gave Cavs fans reason to be concerned for the first time since the Playoffs began.
When LeBron’s free throw — which he shot with his left hand — clanged off the rim, his mysterious right elbow injury became the dominant storyline heading into the second round showdown between Cleveland and Boston.
The Plain Dealer reports:
It is not clear what sort of shape James will be in when the matchup with the Celtics starts Saturday night at The Q. Stretching and shaking his right arm as if it was asleep for much of the fourth quarter, he was able to take his needed and normal role of fourth-quarter bulldozer. He scored eight of his 19 points — his lowest output in the series — in the fourth and pulled down several vital rebounds.
He did it despite the elbow going numb on him a few times, a malady he has been battling for nearly a month. But this was the first time it significantly affected him in a game. “I don’t honestly know what is going on,” said James, who had an X-ray and an MRI on the elbow on Monday that showed no structural damage. It almost feels like you hit your funny bone and it numbs up. I’ve never had a problem with my elbow before. Don’t know when it happened, hopefully it doesn’t continue to bother me. It bothers me more because I don’t actually know what it is.”
During the postgame presser, James assured Cavs fans that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to his health, and that he trusts the doctors in Cleveland entirely.
Assurances aside, until Game 1 tips off on Saturday night, and LBJ proves that he’s fine physically, his elbow will continue to dominate the conversation. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.