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Spurs let is slip away

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.

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Heat turns up on Lebron

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.

Lebron’s dilemma

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.

Game 6 showdown between Heat and Pacers

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 . . .

Lebron James flop?

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau got hit with a $35,000 for suggesting that Lebron James flopped the other night after being shoved by Nazr Mohammed. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m not a fan of traitor Lebron, but that claim is pretty ridiculous. Mohammed shoved Lebron out of the blue, and I’m not at all surprised that he naturally fell backwards. Thibodeau should have been fined.

That said, Thibodeau’s strategy versus Lebron is brilliant, even with some execution issues like Mohammed’s stupid shove. The idea is to get into Lebron’s head, and frankly Lebron had a bad game but was bailed out by his teammates. It may not lead to a Bulls win since they’re so overmatched, but with Lebron you have to challenge him physically and mentally as we’ve seen him wilt many times before both when he played for the Cavs and in 2011 with the Heat.

Of course, Lebron can also rise to the occasion and make you pay for it, but leaving him alone spells certain defeat for most teams. It’s playoff basketball and you have to challenge Lebron and hope he suffers a meltdown or at least starts altering his game.

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