If LeBron James is getting a little hot underneath the collar, I can assure you it’s not the heat responsible for his superfluous perspiration. That’s the San Antonio Spurs beating down on Miami hotter than the June sun.
In Games 3 and 4, the Spurs stormed Miami’s castle and absconded with two wins. South Beach is beautiful this time of year, but there’s a Melo-ncholy feeling fogging up the ozone layer as the Spurs prep for a fifth title parade.
If they finish the gentleman’s sweep of the Heat in the AT&T Center on Sunday night, the eyes of Heat fans will inevitably turn to New York.
The rumors setting the sports blogosphere ablaze over the past 48 hours as a rumor circulates that James is interested in linking up with Carmelo Anthony.
Not one, not two, not three, but four… That’s how many superstars the Heat’s offense may need to continue title haul. If anybody can do it. It’s Scarface Riley.
He smuggles superstars under the cap like Tony Montana’s nose candy. At this point James has been with more athletes than Kim Kardashian, however, Miami’s offense could use a stick of dynamite. Not once have they crossed the 100-point threshold in this series.
Losing this series could be the impetus for The Heatles troika to take further pay cuts and welcome a fourth 2003 draft class dignitary underneath their South Beach umbrella in pursuit of championship rings.
The difference between the Jordan Bulls and the Kobe-Shaq Lakers is that the Heat are three guys and a string of also-rans as Dwyane Wade transitions to part-time superstardom.
If Wade realizes his mummified knees won’t be worth this much again, he may take the self-preservation road and opt into one final season as a near-max level contract player in 2014-15.
After all, he’s got two sons to care of, a baby mama and Gabrielle Union has a certain lifestyle to maintain.
The Heat’s roster looks like the cast of Godfather 3. We’ve got Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Diane Keaton as the Big Three and the remainder of the cast is occupied by the analog to Francis Ford Coppola’s Razzie-(for Worst Actor) wining niece and your cousin Pookie who showed up to the court in Timbalands..
Rashard Lewis was on the fringes of the Miami Heat bench. Now he’s a starter being asked to supply buckets for an anemic roster and defend the post. He fits the Heat’s firing squad offensive scheme that emphasizes finesse over physical inside-out offense. Unfortunately, that also plays right into the Spurs’ hands.
This series has been the inverse of their Finals loss to Dallas. James hasn’t been timid, but he hasn’t been aggressive.
Without Wade creating his own offense, James and Bosh are one egg short of an omelet. The Spurs are the spatula of their demise.
Only once in this entire series has James attempted more than 17 shots. That occurred during Miami’s Game 2 win.
In the summer of ‘93 30-year-old Michael Jordan also met the final barrier between himself and a historic three-peat against Sir Chuck's Phoenix Suns. Jordan catapulted 33 shots per game in Chicago's 4-2 series win before temporarily riding off into the sunset.
Thirteen years later, Wade attempted a modest 23 shots per game in his 2006 Finals triumph over the Dallas Mavericks. However, he also took a prodigious 16 trips to the charity stripe per contest.
By comparison, James is averaging a somewhat meek 17 shots per game and only getting to the line five times a night. It’s not as if he’s tearing it up distributing the ball either. Sixteen assists in four games is below par for a four-time MVP often marginalized for his propensity to find the open man. Boris Diaw can’t match James’s scoring threat, but he has been a more dynamic passer than James past the midway point of these Finals.
Teaming with ‘Melo may be the balance he needs to replace Wade’s consistent production. However, ‘Melo’s mindset is what James needs to embrace in the short-term. Efficiency should be commended, but there comes a time to bury your conscious, follow your visceral thoughts and just start taking aim at the cylinder.
Much of the praise for James' passiveness can be credited to Kawhi Leonard. According to ESPN’s Stats and Info crack research staff, Leonard was draped on James for 65 percent of his possessions and only 17 percent of James' touches resulted in a field goal attempt prior to Game 4. That was half of his rate against all other defenders.
A glance at the stat sheet reveals superstar numbers, but it belies what is seen on the floor. The reason everyone is so hard on James is because he has the natural ability to elevate his game to all-time great status. It’s his mentality that keeps him grounded. His teammates' 10-for-36 shooting doesn't help, but that'sjust another reason for him to start asserting his own authority like we've seen before.
What we’re seeing now is similar to what we witnessed during the first two games of their first Spurs battle and throughout the Mavs debacle. Iconic Finals performances are few and far between for James. The Heat need a 40, 50 point game from James to open the floor up and give Miami a little momentum..
‘Melo has his flaws as an offensive black hole, but it’ absolutely necessary for him to do so in New York’s offense. However, when he’s needed he’s not afraid to risk being viewed as selfish.
The Melo to Heat rumors are a pipe dream. Anthony can compete for a salary without sacrificing half of his potential earnings.
Mentally, James needs to mind meld with Melo, embrace his inner- volume scorer and get stingier with an entity named Spalding.