There have been three games so far in the 2013 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. We’ve seen one close game and one blowout by each team, but the only question I have is … where has LeBron James been? The best player in the game has yet to score more than 18 points in the NBA Finals this year after averaging close to 30 all season long. During the finals James has consistently deferred to his teammates and passed up open shots all series long.
This is no way for the best player in the game to play, and it’s damn sure no way someone being compared to the great Michael Jordan is supposed to play! The media isn’t mentioning it, but James has looked mighty similar to the LeBron James who failed to show up in the 2011 Finals.
We all know that the moment was too big and that there was too much pressure for James in that 2011 Finals defeat to the Dallas Mavericks. He was destroyed by the media for the next year until they thought he got the monkey off his back with his first championship series victory over Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But now that monkey is climbing up on his back again, and that monkey will be entrenched there if the Spurs go up 3-1 on Thursday. The Spurs demolished the Heat in game 3 by a score of 113-77, winning by 36 points. James will have to step up big in game 4 by playing with more urgency, and by being more aggressive from the start of the game, if the Heat want to even this series up.
It would be one thing if James was just missing his shots … but he is just simply deferring, and then also missing when he does decide to shoot (7-21 in game 3). He didn’t attempt a free throw for the first time as a member of the Heat in the playoffs. That means that he isn’t being aggressive attacking the hoop and that he’s just settling for jumpers. That’s unacceptable for a player of his caliber. This is the reason so many people question his clutchness and ability to handle pressure. His play of late has done nothing to quiet that talk.
And you can bet that, that talk will get even louder if he isn’t more assertive in the remaining games in this series. I expect LeBron to come out gunning trying to put the team on his back in game 4, and I expect him to have a big game after being humiliated in game 3. But if that doesn’t happen then he deserves all of the criticism that’ll come his way, and this series will be over in 5 … maybe 6 games at the most.
Where are you at LeBron? We’re still waiting for you to show up and we’ll be tuned in Thursday night to see if you do!