Jun 18, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
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.
Dec 18, 2013, 11:31 PM EST
The Knicks are prone to late-game lapses of judgment this season, and that trend continued on the road near the end of the first overtime session in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Leading by two points with under 20 seconds remaining after a miss by Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler tapped out the offensive rebound, and it landed…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:35 PM EST
In the second battle of the season between the two clear leaders of the Eastern Conference, the defending champs showed that they have more than enough talent to come away with a win if given even the smallest of windows to do so. The Pacers got out to a lead of as many as 15…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:52 PM EST
It’s been a running theme over the past few seasons in Miami, where the Heat veterans — namely LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — haven’t been at all shy about dressing down Mario Chalmers on the court following an in-game mistake. Two straight championships later, things apparently haven’t changed all that much. In the third…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:05 PM EST
Chase Budinger was expected to start and be a key part of the Minnesota attack — he can shoot the three and is very athletic so he can finish in transition. He’s a great fit with their Kevin Love/Ricky Rubio attack. However, for the second straight year Budinger has been sidelined by a knee injury…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:01 PM EST
Pau Gasol was off to a slow start this season, and after he and coach Mike D’Antoni traded jabs through the media about both his role and his performance, the Lakers had reportedly started to weigh their options by making Gasol available in trade long before the Feb. 20 deadline had begun to approach. Even…
Dec 18, 2013, 6:47 PM EST
The Lakers are playing without any healthy point guards at the moment, which is making things difficult on the team overall, but especially on Kobe Bryant. Bryant leads the league in turnovers with 5.7 per contest, and while he’s only played six games, it’s substantially more than Stephen Curry‘s 4.2 per game for the season.…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:55 PM EST
The basketball gods can be cruel. The Washington Wizards were celebrating a dramatic win over the New York Knicks the other night — we focused on the Knicks’ failings but credit to the Wizards for making the right plans and knocking down the big shots. For a team with playoff dreams it was a win…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:11 PM EST
Damian Lillard nailed a three pointer from roughly Shaker Heights to give the Trail Blazers a dramatic 119-116 win over Kyrie Irving‘s Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. That prompted Kay Adams to start off this edition of PBT Extra with the question Lillard or Irving? We also talk about the rise of LaMarcus Aldridge to…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:19 PM EST
We told you Jordan Hamilton would be sitting out for this when it went down. Denver’s Hamilton has been suspended one game by the league for throwing this punch, striking the Thunder’s Steven Adams, the league announced Wednesday. Hamilton will sit Friday when the Nuggets play the Suns. The incident took place at the start…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
Houston’s Omer Asik is going to get traded Thursday. Not Wednesday —deals are still being hammered out. Not Friday — anyone acquired this day or later can’t be traded again at the February trade deadline in a combined deal with other teammates. It will happen Thursday. It looks more and more like the Celtics will…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:01 PM EST
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Southern Comfort’s “whatever’s comfortable” ad series included one with a skinny rocker white guy doing some karate moves in a the kind of hair salon your grandmother goes to. It was oddly compelling. Chris Webber decided to spoof this, for whatever reason. My guess…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:21 PM EST
Greivis Vasquez ranks No. 18 in points per play he finishes as the pick-and-roll ball handler, and Amir Johnson ranks No. 31 as the pick-and-roll screener, according to MySynergySports. That should make the newly formed Raptors duo pretty formidable, and everyone involved sounds excited about the possibilities. Via Eric Koreen of the National Post: “When…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
The New York Knicks are a team that can’t win consistently without Tyson Chandler in the lineup. You can blame that on whomever you wish — coach Mike Woodson, management, James Dolan, Justin Bieiber, there is plenty of blame to go around — but it remains a fact they need him on defense to protect…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:10 PM EST
Make no mistake, the Miami Heat know exactly who is standing between them and a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — the wall that is 7’2” Roy Hibbert and his Indiana Pacers. The Heat also know no game in December is going to determine the outcome of what is a seemingly inevitable Eastern…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
The Bulls shoot 55 percent in the restricted area (29th in the NBA) and 32 percent on 3-pointers (28th in the NBA). That’s a bad combination, and it goes a long way toward explaining why Chicago scores just 95.7 points per 100 possessions, the league’s third-worst mark. But if there’s a bright side for the…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:45 AM EST
Should the Knicks have called timeout before Carmelo Anthony’s final shot attempt against the Wizards on Monday? That question has dominated discussion since the game ended, but perhaps a different question would deal with a more significant issue? Should Melo have been the Knick shooting? First of all, better him than anyone else in a…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:08 AM EST
How about these numbers: 21.1 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting (17.8 shots a game), 9.1 rebounds a night and with a PER of 20.4 as the undisputed leader of his team. That’s your newly minted early MVP candidate LaMarcus’ Aldridge’s numbers… from last season. This season he is scoring 23.6 points per game…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
Technically, the Raptors got Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes for Rudy Gay. But Toronto also got a new spirit. Without the shoot-first, do-little-else Gay, the Raptors have gone 3-1. They’re just clicking a little better. They might be playing with a little more passion, too. Terrence Ross certainly is. Landry Fields…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:13 AM EST
If you haven’t seen Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” well, now you have some homework for tonight. The movie has Denzel Washington and a young Ray Allen in the lead role of a movie where basketball is at the heart of the plot. This season the NBA is going to do “nickname games” where the…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Spurs released Stephen Jackson just before last season’s playoffs, reportedly, because Jackson had been feuding with Gregg Popovich. Jackson could have been bitter, but he wasn’t. Even as San Antonio made the NBA Finals, he said, “I wouldn’t want me on the team, either.” If nothing else, Jackson tells it like it is. If…
- Heat come from 15 down to even season series with Pacers 8
- Report: At the moment, Lakers no longer considering trading Pau gasol 8
- PBT Extra: Damian Lillard or Kyrie Irving? Plus coaching hot seat talk. 6
- Report: Celtics may be frontrunners for Asik; would move Bass, Lee, pick 6
- Tyson Chandler returns to Knicks lineup Wednesday night 5
- NFL legend Jim Brown takes shot at Kobe Bryant, Kobe fires back (105)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- Pau Gasol expresses frustration with D’Antoni offense. Lakers have to think trade. (49)
- Deserving or not Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade among All-Star starters in early voting returns (48)
- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (48)