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Is the NBA Blatantly Cheating For LeBron James?

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Jay Skapinac: “It seems like only yesterday when the Lakers last played the Indiana Pacers in Vegas on December 9th for the ‘coveted’ in-season tournament championship, and we all know how that one went... 
Just another opportunity for LeBron and his entire fan base to humiliate themselves by overreacting to some minuscule hollow achievement. But that game was just a culmination of a thinly veiled rig job by Adam Silver and the league offices in cooking the group play pairings to ensure their ‘Golden Boy’ had the easiest possible pathway through the sham tournament. 
Well, on Sunday night the Pacers just rematched the Lakers in what would be a high-scoring affair as they outlasted the Pacers 150-145. Austin Reaves dropped 25 points and 8 assists, Spencer Dinwiddie added 26 points, and Anthony Davis poured in 36 points and 16 rebounds on 15 of 21 from the field. But no Lakers player was bigger in this one than the ones wearing the officiating uniforms, as LA produced yet another astronomical free throw discrepancy -- out-shooting the Pacers from the stripe by a total of 43-16. This has become just a running and pervasive theme, not just this season but for the last two years now. The Lakers substantially led the league in free throw discrepancy a year ago shooting 476 more free throws than their opponents, which was easily the most in the NBA.  
Following Sunday night's free throw fest against the Pacers, they are now up to +420 more than their opponents so far this season with still 12 games remaining. The Milwaukee Bucks have the second-largest positive free throw discrepancy in the NBA this year so far at only +222. So a team that is barely over .500 now for the second year in a row has shot well over 400 more free throws than their opponents, which is nearly twice as much as the team with the second-most. In all, the Lakers have out-shot their opponents this season in 55 of their 71 games. In those games they are 32-23, a win percentage of 58%. In the 16 games they did not win the free throw battle, they are only 7-9 -- a win percentage of just 43%.  
But simply winning the free throw battle hasn't been enough, as the Lakers are still just in the nine spot in the NBA Western Conference standings currently. That would mean the unfortunate prospect for the NBA league offices of having LA in a play-in tournament against the 10 seed in what would amount to an elimination game. A game which looks to be a collision course against the Golden State Warriors. We have already seen that script play out in last year's Western Conference playoffs in a six-game second round matchup where the Lakers out-shot the Warriors for the series by a total of 160-80 from the free throw line. In three regular season matchups so far this season the Lakers have out-shot Golden State 82-45.  
There is really no telling just how many free throws LA might get in a potential winner-take-all game against the Warriors in that Play-In Tournament. The Lakers would then have to beat on the road likely either Sacramento or Dallas. The Kings have owned the Lakers this year, sweeping them in the regular season series. But again, there is no accounting for how desperate the league offices will be to pull their bloated cash cow into the postseason for a second year in a row, as the Lakers are at their very best when they are not merely winning the free throw battle but are just shooting A LOT of them. Thirty-one times this season the Lakers have shot 25 free throws or more in a game, and they are 21-10 in those games, a winning percentage of 68%. Extrapolated out for an entire 82-game season and that would be the fourth-best record in the league this year. I would take the OVER on potential free throw attempts for the Lakers when they hit the postseason, because when the stakes are at their highest and the Lakers REALLY need a victory, we know the officials will be there waiting to bail them out.  
But just as it was with last season and mostly every season in LeBron’s entire career, it simply won't be enough. All of the advantageous whistles, the stacked rosters, the pitifully weak conference he was in for 15 years -- all to win less in more time than virtually every other all-time great in NBA history.” 

Listen to YouTube sports documentarian Jay Skapinac of the YouTube channel Skap Attack discuss the mysteriously mounting free throw discrepancies currently being enjoyed by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, with Skapinac questioning if there's a more nefarious reason why the Lakers are shooting so many free throws than their opponents on a nightly basis.

Check out the segment above as Skapinac ponders the fate of a potential NBA Play-In Tournament should the currently 9 seeded-Lakers fail to make up three games on the no. 7 seed Dallas Mavericks in the final ten games of the regular season, and wonders how reliable the officiating is going to be when it comes down to a must-win single-elimination game involving the Lakers.

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