San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan has had his struggles against LeBron James in past playoffs, and this postseason showed why that is.
Completing a dominant postseason run, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers took home the 2020 NBA Championship on Sunday evening, going 16-5 in the process. During the NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan sat down to talk with J.J. Redick to talk about how nearly impossible it is to defeat James in the postseason, which was further proven on the Orlando campus.
To say LeBron James has owned head-to-head matchups with DeMar would be an understatement. James owns a 27-8 advantage in regular-season games and a 12-2 lead in playoff games against teams with DeRozan. His postseason success has all come while DeMar was a member of the Toronto Raptors, as his Cleveland Cavaliers defeated them three straight times from 2016-18.
Unfortunately for DeMar, when he finally went to the Western Conference, so did LeBron. Before that, however, James was the ultimate obstacle on a team that seemed on the verge of a ring season after season. DeRozan explained on Redick’s podcast, The Old Man & The Three.
“Going into the playoffs, our whole mindset was we just gotta get past one guy,” said DeRozan. “Then we’re going to make it to the Finals. You see the year he left, they were able to get there. Now for me to be in the West and LeBron come to the West and see him in the Finals in the West. It’s crazy.”
DeRozan is far from the only victim of losing to LeBron when he thought all the pieces were there, as the 2020 Finals marked the 10th time he’s appeared on the NBA’s ultimate stage. Still, given how he had three straight chances recently, he explained to Redick why the task was much easier said than done.
“For years, I always caught so much flack — us being the better team or whatever it was,” said DeRozan. “People not realizing it’s tough to get past this m—-f—–. I don’t care who you are.”
In the 2016 playoffs, the Toronto Raptors dropped the first two games of their Eastern Conference Finals series with Cleveland before DeRozan had back-to-back 32-point games to help them tie the series. As DeMar explained, that’s when LeBron kicked into another gear most players don’t have.
“It was like a whole other mindset clicked for him in those next two games where it was like yo, it’s a closeout,” said DeRozan. James averaged 28 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in Games 5 and 6, as the Cavaliers won them both by a combined 64 points.
Now with a fourth championship under his belt and a ring with a third team, LeBron is still adding to his legacy as one of the best players ever to play the game. While the fact that James followed him across conferences is bad luck, you can’t blame DeMar for struggling against greatness.