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Lebron in the Finals

After Game 1 of the NBA Finals this playoff, everyone got the feeling that Lebron James and the rest of the Miami Heat had turned a corner in finishing games. Lebron finished with 24-9-5; he only had 1 turnover and shot 4 of 5 from the perimeter. These numbers were astronomically better than what he did in Cleveland back in 2007, when his team was completely overmatched.

Lebron when he got swept by the Spurs

Back than the aforementioned “king” had an excuse because he was not supposed to win, and the sheer fact that he singlehandedly beat Detroit was satisfactory. This year Lebron went to Miami to win a championship and after they bulldozed through the east it was expected he would have similar success against Dallas. (I’m not saying dominating Dallas but, I am talking about him playing well consistently. It was Wade who people were unsure about) Lebron James has not gotten back to game 1’s form. Since Game 1, he has averaged over 4 turnovers a game, he has shot 3 of 14 from three, and his points have decreased every game. Lebron’s low point came last night with only 8 points. (8 points! From the so-called best player in the league) Dwyane Wade has averaged over 32 points in these past three games and Lebron could not even give him 10. I truly believed James was going to find his form his second time around in the Finals. I predicted him to be Finals MVP. But now, that it is essentially out of reach and if he does not get it together soon the Larry O’Brien trophy will also be out of reach. Dirk stepped up in the closing minutes with big plays, while having a 3 digit fever. (Literally a fever, I did not mean he was knocking down mass three pointers) Lebron just got torched by Jason Terry (maybe Terry was right about Lebron’s legs getting tired) and the Heat as a unit were unable to close.

Terry shooting it over lebron

At this point in the playoffs, does the credit have to go to the Mavericks because of the amount of successful comebacks they have completed? Or do the Heat still have trouble finishing off teams? I would argue it is combination but, if you showed me Lebron’s numbers before the game I would have told you Miami lost by 20. Meaning that Miami is still capable of taking over this series and I still believe they will take this in six but, Lebron needs to do much more than what he is doing now. He needs to take it to the hole because it is by far the best element of his game and he needs to play shut down defense. Wade can clearly carry the scoring load but, Lebron needs to prove he is the best. I know Kobe won 3 championships with Shaq but, after his first Finals at the age of 21 he never dipped under 15 points. The second he became the focal point of the Lakers offense he never looked back. Lebron is capable of being the best player of all time (Seriously, we have never seen an athlete like Lebron in this league) but, he has consistently regressed back into the shadows of the offense. In Cleveland last season, he looked like he could careless with the outcome was. In this playoff, he simply stopped penetrating late in the game and showed absolutely no initiative. As a fan of basketball that upsets you because you expect greatness from a player of the talent. Is Robert Horry made more for the Finals than Lebron? Possibly, but this kind of performance is unacceptable (And he has obviously outperformed Robert Horry in the finals but, Horry has hit bigger shots in his playoff time)

I see the Heat tied 2-2 and I see a team that should potentially have swept the Mavs. They got Dirk on a night where he looked visibly bad and could not hit shots that he typically makes in his sleep. Instead of jumping on the opportunity to put Dallas away, Miami invited Dallas with open arms to take the game. I know Miami is certainly not the deepest team in the league but, they still have three of the best players in the league. Last night, the guy who is supposed to be their best player took a day off way too late into the season. I expect Lebron to score 30 on Thursday and I expect the Heat to play their best game of the year because they should be that good. I do not see Wade slowing down because clearly he thrives in these moments, Lebron should take notes. Wade is five inches shorter yet finishes around the rim three times as much.

Dwyane Wade with the slam

It will be nearly impossible for Lebron to explain a loss in the Finals this time around because he will be the one to blame. It’s not like 2007 where the Cavs had no chance in the world to win. This year the Heat were supposed to excel and Wade has been carrying his share of the load and than some. Lebron shouldered the load earlier in the postseason but, NBA players are defined on what they do in the finals. If Karl Malone would have been able to take down Jordan just once, he would have probably been a unanimous top 3 PF of all time regardless who else joined the league.

Karl Malone's championship hopes getting thrown away

Now, there are players like Tim Duncan (my opinion unanimous best PF all time), Kevin Garnett (Who is contending with Malone for second), and Dirk Nowitzki (who is the best shooting big man of all time); who can easily take his spot. Dwyane Wade has solidified himself with one Final’s MVP and possibly another one this season. There is no denying that Lebron James is the best regular season player in the league but, that is the reason I always stressed that Kobe was still the greatest player in the postseason; which at this level of talent makes you the best in the league. (I changed my opinion and gave the crown to Lebron this season but, he is making me unsure of my decision) Ultimately, Lebron needs to change his Finals image because image is everything (just ask Malone and Barkley)

Lebron needs to find this again

Lastly, I was discussing with some of my friends the reason why I don’t criticize Kobe when he misses buzzer-beaters. The answer is simple; Kobe has done it time and time again on the biggest stages. Lebron did it against Detroit but, has never lived up to that again in the postseason (Ok, he hit a buzzer-beater against Orlando) I hope Lebron finds his way soon before its too late. (I know that sounds extreme but, this is his seventh year and he’s being compared to the greatest player of all time, MJ. When you are compared to MJ, you better perform sooner rather than later) Lebron still has time to redeem himself this year and moving forward; to all the Lebron fans out there you better hope he does. (One last anecdote, Lebron’s shot looked great up until he got to Dallas and I feel like now he forgot how to play his more effective game of driving and posting. Lebron does not play to his strengths nearly enough because he is so dangerous when he catches the ball in motion closer to the basket. Lebron’s game is not shooting, although it is an element of his game that is still not one of his best attributes. He needs to stop listening to the media and play his game. If that happens he’ll be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy while, Wade is holding the Bill Russell Finals MVP Trophy. Well, unless Lebron has two triple-doubles and Wade becomes useless. But, I doubt it)

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