For the better part of a calendar week, your televisions have been dominated with the storyline surrounding the broken nose of LeBron James. Because of this injury, he would be forced to dawn the dreaded face mask. Back during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was forced to wear one after suffering a similar injury.
According to James and many other players who have worn one, the mask takes some time to get used to. The question in tonight’s game was what kind of game to expect from him in his return against the struggling New York Knicks. Would he be more reluctant to drive the lane? How would the mask affect his overall game?
If you want clarification on any of the questions above, refer to LeBron’s highlight reel, posterizing dunk on former NBA guard Damon Jones in his mask a while back. Tonight, he didn’t quite embarrassingly dunk on an opposing players head, but he was definitely not shying away from contact and driving the lane. Although he looked rather good scoring the ball with 31 points, his peripheral vision appeared to be impeded slightly and his assist numbers on the stat sheet dipped as a result.
The Knicks have been playing horribly lately, but their transition defense against the Heat fast break was nothing short of awful tonight. There were a couple of consecutive first half possessions where after made baskets by the Knicks, a well placed outlet pass led any of the Heat ball handlers on a clear lane to the basket.
The only two Knicks player that even remotely made this contest close before it became a blowout were Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Other than that it was the Dwyane Wade and LeBron James show once again.
There is one question I still need an answer to. Why did the mask have to be black though? It reminded me of a very bad Batman impersonation.