Christmas Day Miami 105-Dallas 94

LeBron James: 37 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Skip Bayless on First Take “It don’t mean a thing without a ring”

The Dallas Mavericks’ zone defense really messed up LeBron’s game in the NBA Finals. They cut off his driving lanes, forced him to take jump shots—many of which did not go in—and really exposed his need to develop a stronger post game. Yesterday, it was clear that LeBron James has worked on his game this offseason.

It was expected that the Mavericks were going to challenge James early to see just how much James has improved trying to force him to continue to take more jump shots. Although there were a couple of  shots taken a great number of his points came off of  being fouled, driving to the paint or posting up.

The absence of Tyson Chandler was certainly felt this game, particularly against a team like Miami, which likes to penetrate and drive to the basket. Dallas did not do a great job of clogging the paint like they did in the NBA Finals. This game really proves that Chandler was crucial in the playoffs last season for the Mavs— he protected the rim effectively, provided great help defense, and was strong offensively. I expected a better game from Lamar Odom although his ejection spoiled his debut Sunday. Even so, I don’t think the Mavericks have a single player on their roster that can really provide what Chandler did.

With that said….

If LeBron James continues to be able to break the zone, either by posting up, making jumpers or creating open shot opportunities for his teammates, it will go along way toward silencing some of his critics. However, as Skip Bayless said in First Take this morning let’s hope “the chosen one” does not turn into “the frozen one” come playoffs.

JA (@jessicaa323)

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