Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers, LeBron James had the ball in his hands with fewer than 10 seconds remaining and a two-point deficit. He was able to get into the lane, but rather than take the potential game-tying or go-ahead shot, he passed it to Chris Bosh who was spotting up in the corner.
While some may say that LeBron should have taken the shot with the game on the line, the numbers in the Big Three era (since 2010-11) suggest that James made the right decision by passing to Bosh.
Most Game-Tying/Go-Ahead FG With Under 5 Seconds Left - Heat In Big Three Era
Entering Game 5, Bosh was 3-for-6 on game-tying or go-ahead shots with fewer than five seconds remaining since joining the Heat in the summer of 2010, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.
On the flip side, James was only 3-for-18 on such shots since taking his talents to South Beach.
Was there another reason LeBron didn’t want to take the final shot?
In addition to the fact Roy Hibbert was waiting for LeBron at the rim, James was just 1-for-5 (20.0 percent) in the paint in Game 5, tied for his lowest shooting percentage in the paint in any career playoff game.
According to player tracking data from NBA.com, this postseason opponents are shooting just 42 percent against Hibbert at the rim. That's tied for third best amongst players who face at least four field goal attempts at the rim per game this postseason.
Bad day at the office
James played the worst game of his postseason career (even though foul trouble had a lot to do with that). He scored just seven points, the fewest he has scored in 152 career playoff games. He also grabbed just two rebounds, second fewest in his playoff career.
In all, James scored or assisted on 19 of the Heat’s 90 points. That is the lowest percentage of points he has ever accounted for in a playoff game.
Not Quite Like Mike
This was the second time in James’ career he was held to single digits in a playoff game. Michael Jordan was never held to single digits in 179 career playoff games.
In fact, the fewest points Jordan ever scored in a playoff game was 15. James was held below 20 points for the 20th time in a playoff game; that happened to Jordan just six times.