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National Columnist

It's LeBron alone again for Heat, and that won't work

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MIAMI -- They were going to talk to the media together, like they usually do, but something happened. What happened? Man, don't ask me. All I can tell you is, the plan was for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to come to the postgame podium together, and then seconds before it was going to happen, the plan changed.

"Just Wade, just Wade," an NBA official was saying in a frenzy, like this was big news, which it sort of was. Just Wade?

"Just Wade," the guy said one more time. "One guy."

And there he was, just Dwyane Wade, talking to the media about a game he put very few fingerprints on. When he was done talking, saying very little of importance -- which matched quite nicely his contribution to the box score -- Wade was gone. And here came LeBron James.

Just LeBron. Just LeBron. One guy.

Which is what happened for a good part of the first three quarters, and for every bit of the fourth quarter.

The Miami Heat were just LeBron. Just LeBron. One guy.

And one guy isn't going to beat the San Antonio Spurs. One guy couldn't do it in the 2007 NBA Finals, and one guy couldn't do it Thursday night in Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals. LeBron gave it a run, but he didn't get enough help from Wade, from Chris Bosh, from anybody, and the Spurs pilfered home-court advantage with a 92-88 victory at American Airlines Arena.

For most of his postgame press conference -- just LeBron, one guy -- LeBron said the right stuff. He said things like, "I know my guys will be there to knock down those shots the next game."

But for about 30 seconds he dropped the scales and gave us a peek into his frustrations. After putting up his 10th career postseason triple-double, LeBron was asked by somebody about his offensive inefficiency -- 18 points on 16 shots -- and the four-time MVP couldn't get 10 words into his answer without stopping and breaking into a big smile.

"I mean, I missed some shots," LeBron said, then paused to smile and shake his head. The body language was clear:

Me? You're blaming me for that loss?

LeBron continued.

"As far as being efficient, I'm not too worried about that," he said. "I also had 18 rebounds. And 10 assists as well. So you know, I'm not too much worried about what I do as far as scoring."

Translation: Let those other guys do some scoring. I'm doing damn near everything else.

The Heat played the first three quarters near flawlessly, as far as taking care of the basketball. They had four turnovers in the first three quarters, and they were shooting 48.3 percent. They were winning 72-69, and they were at home, and they had LeBron James. What could go wrong?

Dwyane Wade could go wrong. Chris Bosh could go wrong. Mario Chalmers. Mike Miller. Norris Cole. That quintet of players -- who played well in Game 1, the box score will suggest -- were terrible in the fourth quarter. That quintet took 11 shots in the fourth quarter and missed 10 of them. LeBron had more rebounds in the quarter (seven) than that quintet had in 32 total minutes (two). He had more points (six) than those five players (two). He had as many assists (one).

Just LeBron. One guy.

Me? You're blaming me for that loss?

LeBron couldn't even play the whole quarter. He was too tired after the third quarter, when he played all 12 minutes and did pretty much everything.

"I told [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] I needed one," James said of his break to start the fourth. "The third was so -- I was in the paint, defensive rebounding, I was closing out ... on shooters. It took all in the tank from me in the third quarter. So I needed a little breather."

The Heat are in trouble when LeBron James takes a little breather. Although LeBron had said on Wednesday that the 2013 NBA Finals would not be a repeat of the 2007 Finals -- when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs -- because he was better and also because he had more "weapons," Game 1 played out just like those 2007 Finals. LeBron's Cleveland team had LeBron and a bunch of junk. The Spurs had Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich. LeBron was good in 2007. The Spurs were better. LeBron's team never won a game.

One game into the 2013 NBA Finals, we're in the same position. LeBron's Miami team has James and a bunch of junk. Will this continue? Will the Spurs sweep the defending champions? Don't ask me. Don't ask LeBron, either.

Ask Wade, who scored 17 points but added just two rebounds and two assists. Ask Bosh, who was 6 for 16 from the floor -- 1 of 5 in the fourth quarter -- for 13 points and grabbed just five rebounds in 35 minutes. Ask Mario Chalmers (eight points on 10 shots). Ask LeBron's supporting cast, such as it was.

But don't ask why LeBron and Wade, who almost always meet the media together, were apart after Game 1. Seems obvious to me, now that I think of it. LeBron was on his own all game. Why should the postgame press conference be any different?


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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