Jun 18, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
Only LeBron James could average 21.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals a game through the NBA Finals and look like he is being passive and not doing enough.
He has for much of the NBA Finals looked like the physically best player on the floor but one that couldn’t impose his will on the game for any extended period of time. It’s true of LeBron and the Heat as a team.
If the Spurs win Game 6 Tuesday night — they are up 3-2 and you know they are going to come out with a great game plan and exploit every Heat mistake — it will signal a shift in the conversation about LeBron’s ultimately legacy.
After last year’s Finals we started to wonder if he would live up to his potential, if LeBron would end up in the Magic, MJ, Kareem “greatest of all time” tier. Lose and will appear to be more in the Wilt Chamberlain tier — the greatest physical specimen of his day, a guy ahead of his time, who could not get his team to beat the best teams of his era.
LeBron is 28, in the prime of his career, it is too early to say what we will think of him a decade from now. It’s a world of instant analysis (this blog is certainly part of that) but some things take time to fully come into focus. Legacy is one of those things.
But another loss, making LeBron 1-3 in the NBA Finals, starts to change the conversation.
“I have to come up big, for sure, in Game 6,” LeBron said after Game 5. “Me being one of the leaders of this team, I do put a lot of pressure on myself to force a Game 7, and I look forward to the challenge. We have to worry about Game 6 and going back home, being confident about our game, being confident about getting a win, which we are.”
You could explain away LeBron’s first loss in the NBA Finals — he single-handedly carried an inferior Cavaliers team to the big stage, only to fall to a much better Spurs team. Even the 2011 Heat you can say was a great team still figuring out who it was. Those Heat were learning to play together and had a thin bench. Last season’s NBA Finals win, where LeBron owned games late, seemed to suggest LeBron and the Heat had figured it out.
But all season he — and Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, and all the Heat —coasted for long stretches. After cruising through two rounds of the playoffs, the Heat have been intermittently dominant and pedestrian, unable to impose their will on games for a full 48 minutes. Particularly in the Finals the counterpunching Spurs have taken advantage of Heat mistakes and withstood almost every Heat run. The Spurs have been the more consistent, and better, team.
The pressure of legacy in Game 6 is not on the Spurs — they already go down as one of the greats of their era — it is on the Heat. Miami doesn’t have the excuses of not knowing how to play together or a thin bench anymore.
The pressure is self-imposed; LeBron went public with “not two, not three, not four” and set the bar high.
Now he has to reach it or get called out for it.
Apr 28, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
I expect he stays in Cleveland, but nothing is a lock.
Apr 28, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT
It looks like Casey will be back. Probably. But nothing is certain.
Apr 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak both remain interested in Rondo, but have cooled a bit in terms of how high they’ll go to retain his services.
Tyson Chandler won’t be suspended for throwing punch at Dwight Howard in Mavericks’ Game 4 win over Rockets
Apr 28, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Watch and decide if this was the right call; it’s unclear, at best.
Apr 28, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Lopez has a player option for $16.7 million next season, but could opt out to re-sign a longer deal this summer — with Brooklyn, or with someone else.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:57 PM EDT
He could need surgery.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
The second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs just got very, very interesting.
Apr 28, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
Apr 28, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Williams silenced his critics with a 35-point outing, and Jack had some words for Pierce afterward.
Apr 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Apr 28, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
Kidd jumped up and down to make sure to get the timeout he wanted.
Apr 28, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT
The Lillard we remembered from last year’s playoffs was back.
Apr 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
Can Austin Rivers have another strong game?
Apr 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Houston needs to make adjustments to the new Dallas starting lineup.
Apr 28, 2015, 2:13 AM EDT
Without Mike Conley to check him Damian Lillard ran free.
Apr 28, 2015, 1:14 AM EDT
D-Will tied his career playoff high with this.
Apr 27, 2015, 11:23 PM EDT
Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton combined for 43 points.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT
Series is now tied at 2-2.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Washington’s averaged defender distance to the Toronto shooter was 3.55 feet, the closest defense any team played in the first round of the playoffs.
Apr 27, 2015, 7:58 PM EDT
The doctor will decide if microfracture is needed while doing a scope.
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- Report: Lakers interested in signing Rajon Rondo as a free agent ‘only at a certain low price’ 18
- Cavs GM: It’s “highly unlikely” Kevin Love returns at all in playoffs, even if Cavs make Finals 30
- No Kevin Love, no J.R. Smith to start, how much trouble is Cleveland in? 26
- PBT Extra: Who wins Game 5 between Spurs, Clippers? Flip a coin. 8
- PBT Extra: Rockets must adjust to new Mavericks starting lineup in Game 5 10
- Portland comes from 10 down in fourth quarter to win 99-92, stay alive in series 5
- Bucks stay alive behind big backcourt performance to force Game 6 vs. Bulls 25