LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The 35-year-old has reached nine NBA Finals, which is the most by any player this century. James becomes virtually unbeatable when he activates 'Playoff Mode'.
LeBron James' 5 worst playoff performances
Though LeBron James is among the most successful playoff players of this era, he's had his fair share of failures in the postseason as well. In this article, we'll take a look at five such instances when LeBron James came up small in the postseason.
Before we begin, it should be noted that LeBron James might have had worse games statistically. But we'll consider the context around the series, the pressure and the historical significance of the defeat while compiling this list.
#5 Game 6 NBA Finals against Dallas Mavericks (2010-11)
The expectations were sky high from the Miami Heat before the commencement of the 2010-11 NBA season. That was because soon after leaving Cleveland, LeBron James had announced publicly that he would win multiple championships along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the coming years.
Though LeBron James had a decent game on paper with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds, Miami was '-24' in plus/minus when he was on the floor.
With this defeat to the Dirk Nowitizki-led Dallas Mavericks, LeBron James went 0-2 down in NBA Finals and was heavily criticized for not being able to win the title despite moving to a better team.
#4 Game 4 NBA Finals against Golden State Warriors (2017-18)
This was the most recent NBA Finals King James was a part of.
After falling to the Golden State Warriors in five games in 2017, fans were expecting a better fight from the Cleveland Cavaliers against Steph Curry's Warriors in the 2018 rematch.
However, things turned out to be even worse for LeBron James and the crew as they were swept in four straight games by the Warriors this time. LeBron James' worst performance of the series came in Game 4 where he ended up with 23 points, six turnovers and five fouls.
Also read: NBA Trade Rumors: Phoenix Suns might be tempted to move Kelly Oubre Jr. in return for the Golden State Warriors' No. 2 draft pick.
#3 Game 4 NBA Finals against Dallas Mavericks (2010-11)
The Miami Heat, who were the overwhelming favorites in the 2011 NBA Finals, had a 2-1 lead over the Dallas Mavericks ahead of Game 4. Just when the world expected LeBron James to take a leap and prove himself at the highest level, he played one of the worst games of his career in Game 4.
James went 3-11 from the field and ended up with just eight points, seven assists and four turnovers. This marked the beginning of Miami's downfall that season as the Mavericks went on to win the next two games to lift the NBA trophy.
#2 Game 5 Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana Pacers (2013-14)
The Miami Heat had a 3-1 lead against the Indiana Pacers in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James was coming off of a 32-point performance in Game 4, and fans were expecting him to knock the Pacers out in Game 5. But Paul George and Co. had other ideas.
LeBron James made just two field goals in the entire game and had no answers to the Indiana Pacers' defense. With just seven points, four assists and two rebounds, these remain LeBron James' worst playoff numbers to date.
#1 Game 5 Eastern Conference Semi-finals against Boston Celtics (2009-10)
The Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals in 2010 is infamously known as 'the game when LeBron James left Cleveland'. This turned out to be LeBron James' last home game with the Cleveland Cavaliers as he made 'the decision' the next summer to join the Miami Heat.
Though James' 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds don't look terrible on paper, it was the way he carried himself on the court that day that enraged the fans. He looked clueless for the most part of the game and seemed to 'give up' on the team before halftime.