CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – In his 14 seasons in the NBA, LeBron James has been through quite a bit.
But nothing like this.
Following Saturday night’s 127-115 loss to the Wizards, James lamented the difficulties the Cavs have endured in their bid to defend their NBA championship.
“This has been one of the most challenging seasons of my career just because of all the injuries,” James said. “It’s been very challenging on our ball club, the lineups and different guys in and out. We get one guy com in and then we get another guy out.”
Saturday night was his case in point.
An hour before tip off Iman Shumpert was scratched due to soreness in his right knee that apparently flared up pregame.
“Tonight we thought we was whole and then Shump is pulled late,” James said. “So, it’s been very challenging.”
On top of that James, who was listed as questionable, played with a scratched right cornea suffered Friday night in Charlotte. He started the game wearing protective goggles but he threw them to the bench before the first quarter ended.
“All day since I got home last night and today I stayed away from [light] because it was bothering me a little bit too much,” James said. “But I kind of warmed up to it, so that’s a good sign.”
James, who finished 2 assists shy of his fifth triple-double this month, was not influenced by recent criticisms over starts resting when it came to deciding to play against the Wizards.
“The only thing that played a part was how I felt and how my eye felt,” James said. “It didn’t feel that great earlier today, but I got here and I went upstairs and worked out a little bit and felt a little better then and decided to give it a go. That’s all it came down to.”
As for the Cavs, it’s been a painful season.
In mid-December center Chris Andersen tore a ligament in his right knee that ended his season. A week later J.R. Smith broke his thumb that required surgery and sidelined him for 11 weeks.
Kevin Love missed just over 4 weeks after he had loose bodies removed from his left knee.
Andrew Bogut, signed after he was bought out following a trade to Philadelphia to provide relief for Tristan Thompson, didn’t last a minute with the Cavs before he broke his left tibia.
The schedule of late hasn’t helped either.
Cleveland fell to 6-8 in March, where they’ve spent most of the month on the road playing just 4 times at home. Sunday they’ll fly off to San Antonio followed by a flight to Chicago for a Thursday night game with the Bulls.
James also took a mean shot to the midsection in the fourth quarter courtesy of Jason Smith’s knee when James went airborne in the lane before kicking the ball out to the corner. He went to the floor in a heap but like he always does, got right back up and continued to play.
The Cavs’ lead in the East is down to just a half game on Boston and after the Wizards shot just under 60 percent more questions about their defense, or lack thereof, dominated the post game interviews much like the topic did a year ago.
Despite similar concerns over defensive prowess the Cavs were able to win their first NBA championship but James cautioned not to assume that’ll happen again.
“You can’t base last year on this year,” James said. “This year is different. Every year is different.”