TNT analyst and two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith believes LeBron James needed to be Superman four times for the Miami Heat to beat the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron has been more than Superman for the Heat. He has been Batman, Iron Man, and the Hulk rolled into one.
According to Yahoo! Sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski, the Heat are no longer all about the Big 3. They’re now solely dependent on the Great One. And that ONE is LeBron James.
His layup with 2.2 seconds left in Game 1 propelled the Heat to a 103-102 win, capping off a 30-10-10 triple-double performance. In Game 3, the four-time NBA MVP spooked the Pacers when he went to an almost exclusive post-up game and the Heat rolled to a blowout win. Then, in Game 5 with the series tied 2-2, James put on the cape once more and flew into another stratosphere.
After the Pacers took a four-point lead at halftime, James took it upon himself to alter the complexion of the game. The Heat needed a swift kick in the butt, and James provided the kicking as well as the screaming.
“I have a big voice in that locker room, I have a big voice on this team, and I sensed what was going on with our team in the first half,” James said. “Before we took the floor in the third quarter I gave them a little piece of my mind and a piece of my voice and we were able to respond.”
James may have been addressing his entire team, but his rant was mainly targeting two guys: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Instead of getting in the faces of his fellow All-Stars, James chose an indirect way to get his message across. Wade has been struggling with his balky knee, while Bosh was getting manhandled in the post by Roy Hibbert and David West. To scorn them publicly would have been disastrous and could scar the team for the rest of the playoffs and beyond. James voiced his displeasure to the whole group, to save Wade and Bosh from humiliation, and then took it upon himself to steady the ship.
The Pacers led 46-40 one minute into the third quarter, but that would be it for them. Over the next 11 minutes, the Heat outscored the Pacers 30-10, with James either scoring or accounting for 25 Miami points.
”That’s LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”What we talked about was doing whatever it takes and competing for each other without leaving anything out there. His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless, he was making plays on both ends of the court, rebounding, covering so much ground defensively and then making virtually every play for us offensively. It’s really remarkable.”
LeBron shot 7 for 10 in the third quarter; the Pacers shot 3 for 14. He had four rebounds in the quarter; the Pacers, as a team, grabbed six. He had four assists in the quarter; the Pacers had one.
“I kinda went back to my Cleveland days and just said we gotta make more plays and be more of a scoring threat as well,” James said. “We were in wait mode in the first half instead of going and get it. I took it upon myself to stop waiting and just go.”
Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller joked during the telecast that the Heat had become the Cavaliers, with James as the centerpiece. The LeBron James one-man show in Cleveland has now moved to a new location in South Beach. Different cast of characters, but same act and same lead guy.
The Pacers have proven that they have the better team. For the Heat to win this series and advance to their third consecutive NBA Finals, LeBron James needs to dig deep and pull out another virtuoso performance.