Skip to content

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

Jun 8, 2011, 1:07 AM EDT

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. Report: As NBPA focuses on after-party, agents want union vote delayed

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Atlanta Hawks Los Angeles Clippers v Atlanta Hawks

    National Basketball Players Associate scheduled to vote on Billy Hunter’s replacement today

  2. Derrick Rose: “I’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Mike Krzyzewski said Derrick Rose looked healthy at Tea USA training camp.

  3. Shelly Sterling beats Donald Sterling in court, clears sale of Clippers to Steve Ballmer

    Jul 28, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

    Donald Sterling’s right to appeal restricted, a pivotal and unexpected ruling

  4. Mo Williams agrees to one-year deal to join Timberwolves

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    Mo Williams, Shane Battier Mo Williams, Shane Battier

    Williams didn’t get quite the payday he was expecting as an unrestricted free agent.

  5. Team USA’s system isn’t changing: They plan to use quickness, athleticism to pressure teams

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    The U.S. head coach Krzyzewski watches his team against Spain during their men's gold medal  basketball match at the North Greenwich Arena in London during the London 2012 Olympic Games Reuters

    The USA has superior athletes and should use that to their advantage.

  6. Derrick Rose making vintage Derrick Rose plays at USA Basketball camp (VIDEOS)

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    Derrick Rose seems to be moving and playing like the Derrick Rose of old.

  7. Report: Timberwolves have talked to Sixers about Thaddeus Young as Kevin Love replacement

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Thaddeus Young AP

    Thaddeus Young is not Kevin Love but he’d keep the Timberwolves from going into full rebuild mode.

  8. Dwyane Wade says LeBron replaces Kobe as his new favorite opponent

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT

    LeBron Wade Getty Images

    Wade may be looking forward to going up against LeBron, but I don’t think he’s going to like how the game ends.

  9. Metta World Peace shoved two players during Venice League game in L.A. (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT

    Metta World Peace Metta World Peace

    Ron Artest made a brief appearance on a rec league court in Los Angeles.

  10. LeBron’s jersey number decision sends Indianapolis adidas manufacturing plant into immediate action

    Jul 28, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    When the game’s best player makes a uniform change, manufacturers spring into immediate action.

  11. Michael Jordan approves of LeBron James wearing No. 23 once again

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Charlotte Bobcats - Game Four Getty Images

    LeBron said when switching to 6 four years ago that no one should wear 23 out of respect to MJ.

  12. DeMar DeRozan jumps over Kyle Lowry for exhibition dunk (Instagram)

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

    DeMar DeRozan; Kyle Lowry AP

    Insert your own “he only jumped over Lowry” jokes, we’re not going to do that.

  13. All eyes on Derrick Rose as USA Basketball mini-camp begins

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Rose is expected to make the roster, but will need to shake the rust off quickly to show he’s more deserving than the other elite guards in camp.

  14. Klay Thompson doesn’t anticipate being traded, says he expects to play with Warriors next season

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

    “The fact that I haven’t been traded yet makes me feel comfortable.” —Klay Thompson

  15. Byron Scott: Lakers ‘better be ready to play some defense’

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

    Scott was historically bad at coaching defense in three seasons with the Cavaliers.

  16. PBT Power Rankings: After summer shakeups, Spurs still team to beat

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five Getty Images

    After all the players shifts this summer, the top three teams in the power rankings remain unchanged from the last one lst year.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4602)
  2. K. Love (4510)
  3. L. James (4487)
  4. J. Nelson (3766)
  5. R. Allen (3674)
  1. D. Rose (3152)
  2. C. Anthony (3125)
  3. K. Bryant (3006)
  4. A. Wiggins (2722)
  5. C. Boozer (2250)