Trailing by 17 points with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue waved the white flag.
He subbed in Cedi Osman for LeBron James.
James was headed to bench after logging 35-plus minutes for the fifth straight game. He finished with 26 points on 11-for-22 shooting, 10 rebounds, five assists, and six turnovers in Cleveland’s losing effort.
“He looked a little tired to me,” Lue said after the Cavaliers’ 96-83 defeat.
Through 16 games, James has averaged 40.6 minutes per game this postseason. His total playoff minutes (649) is a league-high. What’s more, James played in all 82 regular-season contests for the first time in his career this year. Is it possible the 33-year-old is feeling fatigued?
“I had my moments,” James said after Game 5. “But I think everybody at this point is tired or worn down or whatever the case may be. I’m still trying to make plays to help our team win, put us in position to win. We had moments. We had an opportunity, but we didn’t make enough plays.”
Lue said he has “no concerns” moving forward, but the Cavaliers will most definitely need James to be 100 percent to stave off elimination Friday.
“He has to do a lot for that team, and obviously, these games are coming up pretty quick,” said Celtics forward Marcus Morris, who agreed James looked tired. “We just played on Sunday. Games are coming fast. At the end of the day, I mean, s—, I’m tired. Everybody else is tired. We’ve still got to play. He does a lot for his team. Scores, assists, rebounds, I would think he gets a little tired.”
James was also asked if he felt “under the weather,” which he promptly rejected.
He reassured reporters he is doing A-OK.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I didn’t mention the fatigue, either. One of you guys did. I’m fine.”