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Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers: How LeBron James’ exit preceded their NBA slump

Since LeBron James’ switch to the Los Angeles Lakers, Cavs fans have endured 13 losses and enjoyed just two wins

LeBron James returns to Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday – and how they must wish he was lining up in their jersey.

Sadly for them, the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player Award winner will be facing them instead with his new club, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ohio-born James, 33, solidified his place among the all-time basketball greats as he helped the Cavs to four consecutive Eastern Conference Championships and, in 2016, the team’s first NBA Championship.

His move to the Lakers in the off-season broke Cavs fans’ hearts – but few could have predicted just how much the impact of losing one man would have on their team.

LeBron reaching new heights

14-time NBA All Star LeBron has settled well on the west coast of the US

On Sunday, James returned to Florida to face Miami Heat – for whom he played to 2010 to 2014, leading them to four consecutive NBA Finals, and winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

In a 113-97 win, he scored a season-high 51 points – the 13th time he has scored at least 50 points in a game. He was on court for just 38 of the game’s 48 minutes – the fewest in which he has scored at least 50 points.

That happened five days after he became the fifth-highest points scorer in NBA history, passing Wilt Chamberlain – who had 118 50-point games – as the Lakers beat the Portland Trailblazers 126-117.

Meanwhile, here’s four things that have gone wrong for the Cavs since their star man departed.

The form

The Cavs have had the wind taken out of their sails following LeBron’s departure earlier this year

The Cavs reached four consecutive NBA Finals during James’ second stint with them – and in 2016, they won the city’s first major sports title since 1964, by becoming the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals as they beat the Golden State Warriors.

But life in 2018 is very different.

A little over four weeks into the new season, Cleveland have lost 13 of their opening 15 games. As a comparison, they lost 32 out of 82 games last season.

Their two victories, against the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets, have come at home, meaning they have not won on the road since beating the New York Knicks last season on 9 April.

Cleveland are, unsurprisingly, bottom of the Eastern Conference