I just have to talk about LeBron
The Heat beat the Pacers 101-93 last night in Indy to tie the series at 2-2 with two of the final three games in Miami.
Wow. This wasn’t “taking my talents to South Beach” LeBron. This was Cleveland Cavalier assassin LeBron. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when LeBron struggles, he’s still the greatest individual basketball player on Earth. Make all the jokes you want about his fourth quarters, shortcomings, and hairline. When he unleashes, he is winning basketball games.
Here’s what was different about game 4, as opposed to games 2 or 3. The script for the Heat (for basically the last two years) has been Wade trying to get LeBron involved while LeBron tries to get everyone else involved. Well, what happens when Miami’s back is against the wall, Wade is playing the worst playoff basketball of his career (not an exaggeration), and Bosh is sidelined? LeBron puts the entire team on his back, and in a perfect balance of play from basically three different positions, keeps the Heat within striking distance while giving Wade his swagger back. It was incredible. Before I keep going, James’ stat line was 40 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Wade scored 30 points, 22 of which came in the second half. I don’t know how many were assisted by LeBron, but with 46 seconds left in the first half, Wade made a baseline cut to the basket. James hit him in stride on a bounce pass, splitting two defenders, and Wade went up for an easy dunk.
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, I think the greatest player alive is finally figuring out how to actively control games, although I’m sure that’s been said multiple times by multiple Miami Heat beat writers. Wade and Mario Chalmers cannot be left in charge of getting James going, and, after the first quarter, James needs to stop worrying about getting anyone going but himself and Wade.
Here’s something interesting and vomit-inducing at the same time: Both the Eastern Conference Finals and Western Conference Finals will be tagged as the “new era” versus the “old era.” Thunder/Spurs and Boston/Miami will be great angles on whether or not the young kids are ready to take over the senior champions (even though LeBron and Wade are certainly not young, they get this “young-blood” type label). ESPN’s going to talk about it more than they have ever talked about anything other than Brett Favre retiring (2 solid months of coverage in 2 different years) and Clemens’ legal troubles (38745 hours of programming total). I’m already sick of it.