The folks at First Take posed an interesting question the other day by asking whether Kyrie Irving or Dwyane Wade was the better teammate for Lebron James.
Both are great players, and both were great teammates, and your answer will likely depend on which traits you value more.
I’ll side with Kyrie Irving at this point, as his game compliments Lebron’s game perfectly with his ability to hit three-pointers and take on late-game shots. Wade was incredible as well, but he and Lebron have similar games.
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.
As with competitive NBA playoff series, we’re seeing a back and forth between two excellent teams, and each game seems to produce a new conventional wisdom that the media will beat to death. The latest has Lebron James winning these games on his own in “Cleveland” mode, with Chris Both and Dwyane Wade doing their best impressions of disappearing magicians.
As with every “theme’ coming out of one game, things can change very quickly. The main characteristics of Lebron’s days in Cleveland were games like this when he couldn’t miss a shot, often followed by big games where he would clank up threes at the worst time and then wilt under pressure. Lebron is now much more mature and consistent, but there’s no guarantee that he can continue his torrid shooting in game 6.
Also, everyone is ripping on Dwyane Wade as he seems to age right before our eyes, but Wade is still capable of scoring outbursts that can help carry the Heat.
Then we have Chris Anderson. He should have been tossed in game 5, but the NBA at least got it right by booting him for game 6.
On the other side, Indiana needs to find someone to help out Roy Hibbert and Paul George. Lance Stevenson has been huge in their wins, but has had a hard time in Indiana’s losses. They need him to play well.
I think tonight’s game is a tossup, and if Indiana pulls it out, anything can happen in game 7 even though the Heat will be favored at home. It should be interesting . . .
After Miami came back against the Pacers, we had to be ready for a possible comeback in game 6 against the Celtics. This team has played well with their backs against the wall. But this really wasn’t about the Heat. I’ve watched Lebron James enough in Cleveland and last season to noticed when he’s about to flake during a game, but he was locked in from the beginning last night. He wasn’t playful. He wasn’t emotional. He was just locked in and focused on basketball. All the talk about his supporting cast, Bosh’s injury or Wade’s play isn’t really relevant. The main variable in the potential success of the Heat has to do with Lebron’s head. If Lebron doesn’t flake out, the Heat easily win last year, and Lebron also could have won a championship with the Cavs. It all comes down on him.
Last night was a big night for Lebron, but he’s had a lot of big nights in the regular season and in the playoffs. None of this matters unless he also leads Miami to a win in game 7, and then plays well in the Finals. Also, his outside shot was falling last night, and we all know that Lebron is pretty much unstoppable when he can hit his outside shot. But when he cools off he sometimes goes into a funk.
The problem this year is that Lebron and the Heat will be running up against a team in the Oklahoma City Thunder that just may be better than the Heat, even if Lebron plays up to his ability and doesn’t flake out. Kevin Durant is a superstar, and he’s surrounded by a gang of young studs that can match up with the Heat when it comes to athleticism. Also, Durant doesn’t need a sports psychologist to get him through the Finals.
So there won’t be much room for error for Lebron if he makes it to the Finals. Don’t crown him king just yet.