Skip to content

NBA Playoffs: Heat can’t survive career-low scoring performance from LeBron

Jun 8, 2011, 1:07 AM EST

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four Getty Images

For the fourth time in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Heat came into the fourth quarter with a big lead. For the second time, they came away with a loss, this time by a final score of 86-83. And for the second time, the Heat’s failure to secure a victory can be traced directly back to the play of LeBron James, who spent the regular season and the first three rounds of the playoffs clearly establishing himself as both the league and the team’s best player.

In Game 2, LeBron didn’t shoot much, but it was his fourth-quarter performance that was the real problem: James was efficient for the first three quarters, then, along with Wade, hijacked the offense and fired long jumpers as the Heat watched their lead dwindle away and a commanding 2-0 series lead turn into a tie series.

In Game 4, LeBron was off from the opening tip to the final whistle. Even though he was guarded by the 6-4, 38 year old Jason Kidd for much of the game, James never looked to be aggressive offensively, and missed easy shots when he did. James made some nice passes and had some nice rebounds, but the Heat desperately needed some scoring from James to put the Mavericks away, and he responded with the lowest-scoring game of his playoff career, with zero points in the fourth quarter.

LeBron has had some tough playoff exits in the past, but the blow was always softened by poor performances from his supporting cast, even in the infamous Boston games that ended his time with the Cavaliers. That’s not the case here. The Heat’s bench outplayed the Mavericks’ in terms of +/-, Wade was again spectacular, and Bosh added 24 points on his own. After this loss, LeBron has nobody to blame but himself.

It was hard to imagine how LeBron could have thrown away the goodwill he earned with the dominant all-around and crunch-time performances that beat the Celtics and the Bulls, but he seems to be finding it.

This is now a best-of-three series, and there’s no doubt that these next three games will be the most important ones of LeBron’s eight-year career. The Heat sweeping the Mavericks with Wade as the clear head of the snake would have been an interesting compromise for LeBron’s legacy; he would have finally gotten that elusive ring, but would have had to rely on a teammate to bring it home for him.

That’s still in play, but now there are two other possibilities. If the Heat lose, this will be the absolute nadir of his career. I didn’t think that LeBron’s public perception could reach a new low after his final Boston performances and the “Decision” fiasco that followed it, but that possibility is now in play. On the biggest stage, LeBron has failed to deliver, and the Heat would already be planning their parade if he had.

On the other hand, LeBron could realize just how important these next three games are to his legacy, turn things around, and put the Mavericks away with one or two dominant performances, which will make the Heat’s two losses a little-known footnote in the Story Of LeBron.

The Heat can win with LeBron playing a role other than that of the primary scorer and crunch-time assassin. They cannot survive James playing passively and waiting for his superstar teammates, the teammates he sacrificed his public image to play with, to hand-deliver him a ring.

With the NBA Finals coming down to the wire, just like three of the four games played in it so far have, LeBron needs to step up and make his mark. The fans know it, the media knows it, his coach knows it, and his teammates knows it. Over the next week or so, we’ll find out if LeBron has what it takes to silence his doubters once and for all and win a championship, or if he’s content to have more games like this and be the laughingstock of the NBA until he finally gets that championship ring on his finger.

 

Latest Posts
  1. Josh Smith calls Hawks fans “bandwagoners”

    Mar 4, 2015, 1:55 AM EST

    Houston Rockets v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Hawks fans booed Smith every time he touched the ball.

  2. Josh Smith rattles in 3-pointer, taunts booing Hawks fans (video)

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:33 PM EST

    Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague

    Smith can’t stop shooting 3s, though, and you know how that ends

  3. Report: Celtics’ top free-agent target is Kevin Love, Greg Monroe No. 2

    Mar 3, 2015, 8:08 PM EST

    Kevin Love, Greg Monroe AP

    Boston reportedly also plans to try for Marc Gasol, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler

  4. Report: Mavericks, Heat in long line of teams interested in JaVale McGee

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:50 PM EST

    JaVale McGee JaVale McGee

    The list for him is much longer than just two teams. Much longer.

  5. Nuggets need to decide direction, then hire coach

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:08 PM EST

    Kenneth Faried, Brian Shaw AP

    What kind of team are they trying to build.

  6. Kyrie Irving a gametime decision for Cavaliers vs. Celtics

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:55 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Irving has missed two straight games with a shoulder strain.

  7. Pacers’ David West on Nuggets firing Brian Shaw: ‘That’s bullsh-t. No grownups on the roster.’

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:10 PM EST

    Indiana Pacers v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Shaw was an assistant coach in Indiana before landing the head coaching spot in Denver.

  8. Nuggets have fired head coach Brian Shaw

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:38 PM EST

    Brian Shaw AP

    Nuggets are 20-39 this season.

  9. Matt Barnes says if he was the one who kicked LeBron, league would have tried to put him in jail

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Barnes isn’t wrong that the punishment for him doing something like this would have been much more severe.

  10. J.J. Redick ejected for complaining to officials, says Flip Saunders told him to ‘shut the f— up’

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:50 AM EST

    J.J. Redick, Scott Twardoski J.J. Redick, Scott Twardoski

    Clippers have a reputation with the referees, which likely was why Redick was tossed for seemingly innocuous comments.

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Westbrook (7511)
  2. K. Durant (7112)
  3. D. Rose (6564)
  4. D. Cousins (6539)
  5. A. Davis (6147)
  1. D. Howard (6107)
  2. L. James (6063)
  3. J. Harden (5794)
  4. K. Irving (5785)
  5. P. George (5551)