Blog Entry

Biggest difference with LeBron? He's missing now

Posted on: June 11, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Think back a couple weeks with me. The Heat had just finished the top-seeded Bulls in five games and did it in most dramatic fashion. Miami rose from the ashes in Game 5 to come back from 12 down, led by an incredibly clutch performance from LeBron James.

Then just to cement things a little more, the Heat took Game 1 of the NBA Finals behind more crunch time shot-making from LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Over the course of a couple games, the Heat went from a team most saw as a group without a way to close and win tight games to a dominant team in the clutch.

And as things tend to do in the playoffs, all of that spun around again on its head. After two sub-par fourth quarters, LeBron is now being hammered from every direction. Seriously, Google some of the stories written following those games. I feel like we need a record scratch inserted somewhere between those stories and the ones from this past week.

Rightfully so too. This is LeBron James. The best basketball player on the planet. He's not a role player. He's decidedly not Scottie Pippen, or at least not supposed to be. (He's not Michael Jordan either, but let's not go there today.) He's something bigger, something better. So why isn't he playing like it?

He's admitted multiple times to not being as aggressive as he'd like to be, that he can be better. Why? Because he's LeBron Freaking James. Eight points in a game isn't good enough. One basket in the fourth doesn't cut it. We expect more because we know what LeBron can do. It's almost like we're angry at LeBron because we know he can give more. We know he's better than this. And it's frustrating the hell out of us.

But flash back to Game 5 against the Bulls where LeBron was taking over and closing. At that time, everyone saw the Heat as LeBron's team. Dwyane Wade was struggling -- while somehow escaping the death grip of the media -- so LeBron took over. In that comeback in Chicago, LeBron scored 12 of Miami's 26 in the quarter, including eight of the last 14.

Look, however, where he scored those from. Twenty-seven foot 3-pointer. Twenty-five foot 3-pointer. Twenty-one foot jumpshot. LeBron closed, yeah. But he did it by drilling jumpshots. He took only five shots the entire fourth quarter, all being jumpers. Compare that to Game 5 against Dallas. LeBron took four shots (five if you include the charge that wiped out a basket), with three 3s and a 17-foot jumper. It was the exact same stuff from his heroic Game 5 against Chicago.

The difference? The ones against Dallas didn't go in.

"Shots go in, shots don't go in," LeBron said. "When you have the shot, you take them. Some of the same shots I've taken in the other series, they went in. They're not going in for me right now. That won't deter me from taking that opportunity once I get them again."

He's absolutely right. When a shot goes in, it instantly becomes a good one. That's how basketball works. It almost feels silly to reduce basketball down to something as simple as that when we have all these awesome advanced stats and Synergy and whatever else. But the game is about the ball going through the hoop. It's kind of like in baseball when a guy hits one off the end of the bat and it floats perfectly in between the second baseman and the right fielder. There's no asterisk by the hit in the box score. It goes does just as if he smashed a line drive up the middle.

For example, Jason Terry's dagger 3 against the Heat in Game 5. He was up against the shot clock, covered by LeBron and almost 30 feet from the basket. It was a horrible look. The exact same time of look that Miami clanked a couple times in blowing a 15-point lead in Game 2. But Terry's 3 dropped. And now he's a hero.

Thing is with LeBron too is that he's no longer as bad a jumpshooter as once assumed. He's gone from hitting just 34 percent from 16-23 feet in 2007 to knocking down a solid 45 percent of his shots from that distance this year. He shot 33 percent from 3 which is far from great, but that's also what Kevin Durant shot from deep this season too. Percentages exist for a reason though. You're not going to hit 84 percent from 16-23 feet forever. And LeBron has regressed to the mean. It's natural.

What frustrates people with him taking those shots that in reality are good looks for him is that he's the league's best finisher at the rim. When he has the jumper going, he becomes the most unstoppable offensive player since Shaq in his prime. There's seriously not a thing you can do to stop him. That's what he's not doing enough of. There's no attacking off the pick-and-roll. No hard drives at the rim. It's either a jumper or a pass. When the jumper's falling, it's all good.

I think the question here to ask is, is LeBron really doing anything all that different than he did when we were all crowning him as King Closer? Is he being as equally passive and willing to pick spots to shoot, except this time, he's not making them? He took only four fourth quarter shots in the Game 1 win over the Mavs (2-4). He went just 4-9 from the floor in the fourth quarter and overtime in his 35-point outburst in Game 4 against Chicago. He didn't score in bulk, but everything was timely.

He's moving aside in favor of Wade in big moments, no doubt. We kill him for that but LeBron means it when he says, "I have to do what's best for our team to help put our team in a position to win ballgames."

LeBron is an unselfish, extremely team-oriented player, almost to a fault. And it drives us all nuts. He almost has too much talent to be that unselfish. I remember him saying after the McDonald's All-American game when he was a senior in high school that all he cared about was getting the win. I never knew if I believed him on that or if he was just saying it because it sounded good, but I think he's convinced himself that he's only on the floor to help the team win. Whether that means defending, passing, rebounding -- whatever -- LeBron is ready and willing to play a role.

Which is the problem. He's not a role player. He's the best player in the league. And if Miami is going to win this series, he's got to start acting like it. Or at least knock down a couple jumpers.

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: June 12, 2011 7:51 pm

Biggest difference with LeBron? He's missing now

How many friends will Lebron bring to the team next year to help him?

he has conducted himself like a punk...and sadly has dragged D-Wade into it with the stupid cough/mock Dirk crap.

go to the video of game #2 in the 2nd quarter...the posing, the was crazy....2nd quarter of a 7 game series and he thinks he won something?.......oh yeah and then the lost the game at home blowing a 15 point lead.

Pat Riley must be going insane...with the "celebrating"..kiss the floor in round 2 crap.  

Coach is GONE if they lose this.

Welcome back Pat!      


Since: Jun 7, 2011
Posted on: June 12, 2011 6:12 pm

Biggest difference with LeBron? He's missing now

Lebron is mentally not there. he needs to lock in and get into the game. Forget taking turns with DWADE being the man on each possession. HE needs to attack evertime he has a mismatch or is in a position to score. Dont set up the defense. Get buckets. And then he needs t get 20-25 shots a gameand so does DWade.

That is alll

Since: Jan 17, 2011
Posted on: June 12, 2011 1:06 pm

Biggest difference with LeBron? He's missing now

It is a make or miss league, but Lebron's mistake is not taking the shot he shoots best: the mid-range jumper.  He and Dirk were #1/#2 in making mid-range jumpers this season (shooting %), but that part of his game is strangely absent in this series.  He has made a few pull-up mid-range jumpers but hasn't followed through with more attempts. In game 4, Miami's best stretch was when he actually hit a pull-up mid-range jumper and started to gain a lead for the first time. If I were Lebron, I would spend the first half taking 7 or 8 pull up mid-range jumpers.  By the 3rd quarter the Dallas defense will start to close the space and that's when he'll have his chance to drive and get to the rim and the free throw line.  It will also open up the rhythm 3 point shot because they will need to play him for the high percentage shot in the paint.  In game 5, although Dallas shot the ball extremely well, when you look at the game stats, they did not play well defensively or in terms of rebounding.  I was actually more impressed that Miami managed to hang in that game with D-Wade out for over 2 quarters.  Miami should've won at least 1 of the last 2 games.  They played that well.  Vegas has Miami -5 today, which is pretty aggressive given how close these games have been, but I think they're on to something.  It's time for the Dallas bubble to burst.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: June 11, 2011 10:51 pm

Biggest difference with LeBron? Nothing!

A player gets a triple double in the NBA finals and he is raised up as a hero. It is a very hard feat to accomplish and very few have ever done it. Unless that player is named LeBron. When that is the case, LeBron has failed because he was expected to be a hot dog - taking every shot.

You cite the McDonalds game many years ago as evidence that LeBron is unselfish. Yet you say there is difference now. LeBron is the same person but an even better player. The media has a hard-on for LeBron. No matter what the outcome, even Heat wins, the media have been anti-LeBron. Give it a break! LeBron is one player of eight or nine who play for Miami. LeBron contributes greatly when he is on the floor. But he gladly defers to others to take the shots when they are open and he is not. That is good smart basketball. That is exactly what his coach wants (and what the media and fans should want).

Consider that the Mavericks must assign their best defensive effort to contain LeBron. Give the Mavericks credit for guarding him well. This is a team game and the best team normally wins. So far the best team has been the Dallas Mavericks. But going back to Miami helps the Heat. Win the next game at home and anything can happen in game 7. Win game 7 and all the LeBron haters will have to be quiet for a year. Funny how Dirk says he has had the haters for 15 years. Ignorance about the game causes people to extend erroneous expectations upon individual players. So nothing, Royce is the difference. Same player, same game, different opponent different result. It happens. 

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