When you read this article about the strength of the case against Aaron Hernandez, you realize immediately that the New England Patriots had little choice in releasing him after he was arrested for murder. It’s hard to cover your tracks in today’s world, and it appears that the police have a witness along with a ton of information regarding the timeline that implicates Hernandez. The defense seems to have an uphill battle in this case.
This decision by the Patriots also spares Roger Goodell and the NFL from having to deal with a suspension. Hernandez has been released so there’s no need to go through a process that will demand even more media attention.
I would have been shocked had the Spurs found a way to win game 7 on the road after they gave away game 6 at the end of the fourth quarter, so last night’s Heat victory wasn’t a surprise.
Lebron James deserves credit for adjusting to the way the Spurs were letting him take outside shots. He stopped hesitating and started hitting jumpers, and last night he was on fire. He was too much for the tired and ragged Spurs.
Can the Miami Heat come back for a terrible performance again? This seems to be their M.O., but now they’re facing another problem. Something seems to be wrong with Lebron James . . . again. Everyone will try their best to figure out the problem, but it certainly has something to do with the way the San Antonio Spurs are defending him and daring him to shoot. Lebron seems lost.
As usual, Brian Windhorst does an excellent job of covering Lebron’s latest disappearing act in this column.
Meanwhile, Eric Spoelstra seemed most disgusted by the Heat’s defensive effort, and Zach Lowe does an excellent job detailing the defensive breakdowns by the Heat in game 3. Mike Miller is a stud when it comes to shooting three-pointers, but adding him to the rotation seems to have exacerbated the team’s problems on defense.
We’ll wait till the series is over to comment on how this might affect Lebron’s legacy. We’ve seen the Heat come back many times, so now the pressure is really high for Lebron, the Big Three and the rest of the Heat in game 4.
Spurs fans have to be happy after Game 1, but we all know you can’t project out the entire series after one game. The NBA playoffs are all about adjustments as we saw in the Indiana series, and now we’ll see what Erik Spoelstra has planned for game 2.
- We’ve all seen Miami come back again and again after a tough loss, so we should expect to see some adjustments for Game 2. That said, San Antonio is much more experienced and consistent that the Pacers. They anticipate adjustments and can respond in kind. The Spurs will be tough to beat if they play like they did last night and start hitting their threes. That said, Lebron mysteriously stayed away from the post last night. Let’s see if Spoelstra adjusts the offensive game plan.
- Fatigue was a factor for Miami. Of course that has a lot to do with the Indiana series, but the Spurs know how to run a defense ragged. The aggressive Miami defense that often destroyed the Pacers in the half-court wasn’t as effective against an efficient Spurs team that had only four turnovers. It’s not a good sign that he had to ask Spoelstra for a breather at the end of the third quarter.
- Lebron played well last night, but he certainly wasn’t in “beast mode” against this defense. The Spurs clogged the lane and dared Lebron to dish to his teammates. They’re happy to watch Chris Bosh launch threes, especially in crunch time. We’ll see whether Lebron can find a way to take control. This series looks like a great challenge for him.
- If Lebron, Wade and Bosh all play well, Miami can beat anyone any night of the week. But Wade and Bosh have been inconsistent, and that creates huge problems for Miami. The Miami bench has also been erratic. Shane Battier was on fire last year, but this year he’s basically been benched in favor of Mike Miller, who is a huge liability on defense. Meanwhile, the Spurs are more disciplined, efficient and experienced. They’re also deep, and even though Spoelstra has established himself as a very good coach, Gregg Popovich is the best in the business. Tony Parker is clearly on his game, and Tim Duncan continues to play at a high level. Manu Ginobili has yet to get hot.
- Basically, the Heat have to play well to win this one. That may sound obvious, but the point is they can’t expect the other team to self-destruct at times in the face of their defense. Indiana played a great series and almost beat Miami, but they’re still young and erratic, and their offense would disappear at times. Frank Vogel did a great job, but he had no clue when to call a timeout against the Heat onslaught. Popovich doesn’t make those mistakes. He knows how to control a game and stop a run.
So let’s see how Miami responds. If history is a judge, the Spurs will have their hands full in game 2, not that they won’t be ready.
Brian Windhorst has an excellent article about the dilemma facing Lebron James in tonight’s game 7 showdown in Miami versus the Pacers. Should he try to take over the game and save the Heat like he did in Game 5, or should he try to stay with the program and find ways to get Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh involved.
Against the front line of the Pacers, the formula that worked in the regular season for Miami isn’t working now. Wade’s injury isn’t helping, and right now the Heat are searching for players who can hit shots.
But while everyone is focusing on Lebron and the lack of help, we can’t forget that it was Lebron who basically went AWOL back in 2011 against the Mavs, which was very similar to his disappearing acts in Cleveland. And while Dwyane Wade hasn’t played well in this series, Wade remembers that he had to carry a fragile Lebron several years ago.
So the dynamics in the Heat locker room will be a hot topic of conversation for a while, whether the Heat win or lose tonight. It will be interesting to see if Wade ever calls out Lebron for his own failures in the past.