LeBron James had one of the best games of his career Sunday as the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 101-93 to tie the series at 2-2.
LeBron played 44 minutes and scored 40 points to go with 18 rebounds and nine assists. He was 14-of-27 from the field, 12-of-16 at the line and also had two steals and two blocks. He did this in a must-win game for the Heat where they were without Chris Bosh and the performance also seemed to wake Dwyane Wade.
No one in the NBA is capable of filling up the stat sheet like LeBron is. But we’re not going to see LeBron doing this if the Heat make it to the NBA Finals.
LeBron and the Heat are probably the best team in the Eastern Conference right now and they should be very thankful that is the conference they play in. With the way the Heat have played this season and in the playoffs so far they may not have made it out of the first round if they were in the West.
That may be a little unfair since LeBron and the Heat tend to play to their competition. We haven’t seen the best of the Heat yet because they haven’t needed to show it.
But like the Heat found out last year in the NBA Finals, it isn’t that easy to suddenly flip the switch when your backs are against the wall. They were able to yesterday but let’s not forget who they are playing. Indiana is a nice team and a decent matchup against Miami but they really shouldn’t be winning this series even with Bosh out.
Waiting for the Heat this year in the NBA Finals won’t be Dallas and Dirk but most likely San Antonio or Oklahoma City.
The Spurs are the best team in the NBA by far and especially lately. They haven’t lost since April 11 and they have the championship experience in their best players and head coach necessary to continue playing at this level.
The Thunder are the most talented team in the NBA right now with the highest ceiling. When they play to their potential which they are fully in control of and doing a lot in the playoffs, they will beat anyone.
The Spurs and Thunder would also each have home court if they play the Heat in the Finals. This actually does matter since the Heat haven’t been great on the road this season and the Spurs and especially the Thunder are nearly unbeatable at home.
Watching the Western Conference makes it frustrating to hear the talk surrounding the Heat and LeBron: “After yesterday’s game, the Heat are now back as one of the title contenders and possibly the favorite. If LeBron can play like he did yesterday for the rest of the playoffs, no one’s beating them.”
That’s not fair because LeBron doesn’t always play that way and certainly won’t against the Spurs or Thunder.
It is becoming evident that the Miami Heat this year would need LeBron to play like he did yesterday for an entire series if they are going to win the championship and that still could possibly not be enough.
It isn’t quite clear yet whether the Spurs or Thunder would be the toughest matchup for Miami, only that either should beat them.
San Antonio, very much like Dallas last year, would kill Miami with their ball movement and perimeter shooting. Tony Parker would have a field day as most point guards do against Miami and Tim Duncan would likely continue his “throwback” play against them.
The Spurs wouldn’t be the best at making things difficult on LeBron and Wade though. Their wings are nice and have really bought into defense but LeBron and Wade could have big series against them.
The Thunder would be able to do a much better job of containing LeBron and Wade. Kevin Durant is showing growth on defense and is underratedly becoming the best possible player to have guard LeBron. He shut down Kobe in crunch time of Game 4 against the Lakers and did a very nice job against LeBron in the regular season.
The worry for OKC would be their offensive efficiency against Miami’s defense. The Thunder can be up and down in this area but thanks to James Harden are making significant strides on offense these playoffs.
The Thunder would also have a huge advantage inside with Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison and would be the more physical team all series long.
The point is: good for you LeBron and Heat for showing up yesterday with a great game. It should never have come to this. They should have had the best record in the NBA this season and should never be trailing in any series with a team from the East.
Let’s not lose perspective of what is really happening in the playoffs right now. The NBA Finals will truly start in a few days when the Spurs and Thunder begin their series.
Tags: Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade Indiana Pacers James Harden Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant LeBron James Miami Heat NBA Finals NBA Playoffs Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs Serge Ibaka Tim Duncan Tony Parker