Breaking Down the Insanity That Is LeBron James' Foul-Free Streak

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Breaking Down the Insanity That Is LeBron James' Foul-Free Streak
USA TODAY Sports

Though LeBron James is no stranger to dominating the box score, he has laid claim to so many different feats that we often forget there's plenty he has yet to conquer.

Like going 250 minutes without committing a foul.

By the time the buzzer sounded Saturday night, the Miami Heat had throttled the Utah Jazz and LeBron had gone (per Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald) over 250 minutes without fouling, a streak that dates back six-plus games to the first quarter of Miami's December 8th bout against the New Orleans Hornets.

According to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com, this current foul-less stretch is the longest James has had since 2009, when he committed just three fouls over the course of nine games:

The five games without fouling is James' longest streak since 2009 when the streak evolved into another impressive feat: just three fouls over the course of nine games. The longest foul-less streak over the past 15 seasons belongs to Steve Nash, who registered a goose egg in the "PF" column for 11 consecutive games last season in Phoenix.

Impressive much? 

Absolutely, though the streak itself doesn't even do the accomplishment justice.

James keeps attacking on defense.

James could be playing Swiss cheese defense, couldn't he? He could be allowing opponents the freedom to traipse their way to the rim, right? 

By all means, he could be a defensive hindrance. But he isn't. If anything, he's picked up his defense, to the point where head coach Erik Spoelstra (via Goodman) has nothing but praise to offer his star forward:

“I’d be concerned if he was just standing around,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ streak without a foul. “If he’s hiding and taking himself out of plays, taking mini-vacations on possessions, but he’s been activating our defense.

“When you have his type of athletic, god-given ability and you add it to his mind and the preparation, he can be one or two steps ahead of the play, which allows him to be a playmaker defensively, allows him to be physical, get in the thick of it, but also be early enough so he’s not getting called for out-of-position fouls.”

Translation?

LeBron has set the Heat's defensive tone, not stifled it. He's still playing the same aggressive defense he always has, an efficient style that has allowed him to grab a total of 41 rebounds, five steals and block five shots over this span. He has also continued to average 37.5 minutes per contest.

James is still dominating, he's just doing so without fouling.

All without committing a single, solitary personal foul.

Most notably, as of December 5th, just prior to the start of his foul-less stretch, the Heat were allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor—a number that has since decreased to 105.1.

Watch closely and you'll see that James is still fighting over screens. He is still contesting shots, still hitting the glass hard, still suffocating opposing forwards and still completing the same necessary rotations with the utmost of precision.

And yet, he hasn't been whistled for a foul (technicals aside) on either end of the ball. He hasn't adjusted his style of play, and Miami is winning basketball games because of him, not in spite of him.

On a scale of 1-10, how impressive is LeBron's foul-less streak?

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James may not break Nash's 11-game mark. He spends 53 percent of all Miami's possible minutes defending power forwards, which puts him in the the thick of traffic and rim protection.

But does that really matter? The Phoenix Suns won just four of the 11 games Nash didn't commit a foul. Of the five complete games LeBron has gone without fouling, the Heat have won four. 

This isn't just another one of James' streaks. This is complete and utter domination.

 

All stats in this article are accurate as of December 23, 2012.

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