LeBron James is in the midst of the most prolific postseason play of his career and he’s not afraid to say it.
Despite being down 3-2 in the Finals to the Golden State Warriors following a 104-91 Game 5 loss on Sunday, James explained why he is still confident about his Cleveland Cavaliers’ chances: because of him.
“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” James said following his 40-point, 14-rebound and 11-assist performance for his second triple-double of the series. “It’s that simple.”
It was the second time in the Finals that James has puffed out his chest with a braggadocios comment. After he scored 44 points in a Game 1 loss, James rejected the notion that part of the Warriors’ game plan was to allow him to rack up points while focusing on his teammates.
“You don’t let me have 40,” James said. “I go get 40.”
James is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the Finals and is only the second player in history to record a 40-point triple-double in the championship round. The only other player to do it was Jerry West in 1969.
That is especially relevant because there is already some conjecture building that James could win the Finals MVP award even if the Warriors close out the Cavs with one more victory. The only time a player from the losing team has won the MVP was West in 1969.
James has hinted at a secret motivation he’s harboring for this series. Though he has refused to elaborate, one possibility is that he wants to make a statement about the regular-season MVP award. James was third in the voting behind Stephen Curry and James Harden, a fact that sources say rankled him because he believed his body of work this season when he carried a large leadership load wasn’t properly considered by voters.
The way he is talking, it seems James might be able to take a modicum of satisfaction if he were able to win the Finals MVP award ahead of Curry, who had a breakout 37-point performance in Game 5.
“LeBron has been tremendous — [that is] even an understatement for how he’s played in the series,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “Under the current set of circumstances, that’s what we’ve got to get, and he’s bringing it. You don’t see that every day, what he’s doing. You’ve got to take your hat off to him, too.”
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Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com