Consider the following: through six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James has scored 16 points more than Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined.
In many ways, tonight’s Game 7 in Miami will serve as a referendum of sorts on the legacy of the fabled South Beach Big Three.
Can Wade and Bosh break out of their slump, break away from the clutches of the relentless Indiana Pacers defense, and help James reach the NBA Finals for the third consecutive season?
So far, both coaches are saying what you’d expect about confidence and execution, but this will come down to LeBron finding a way to elevate his teammates’ play (and massage their severely bruised egos).
Per the Miami Herald:
Speaking after Game 6 late Saturday night, James indicated he will do all he can to help them both before Game 7 at 8:30 p.m. Monday. Asked how much their combined 4-for-19 shooting can be attributed to the Pacers’ defense – as opposed to their own issues – James said, “It’s a little bit of both. They’re two great players. When they don’t shoot or play well, it’s more on them. It’s not taking credit away from Indiana’s defense. They were amazing. … But I think Dwyane and Chris have seen every defense ever applied to them in their 10-year career, and they’ve been able to figure it out. This one just took a little longer.”
James has been sensitive to Wade’s knee injury throughout the playoffs, remarking several times that Wade is not 100 percent but still giving everything he has. James responded delicately when asked about Wade’s postgame comment that he needs to have more opportunities. “I may have to look over the film,” James said. “I know he missed a couple chippies that he wished he could get back. He had a layup or two layups in the third, pretty good looks, some looks he hadn’t had all series. He went around Roy Hibbert and he missed one at the rim. He had another one that rimmed out as well. Those are rhythm plays for anyone. When you’re struggling, the best thing to get is a layup or a dunk. He missed a couple of them.”
LeBron James acknowledged that Chris Bosh’s shot has been off, but allowed that it could partly be due to an ankle injury.
LeBron has done everything for the Miami Heat in this series — leading the team in scoring, rebounding and assists — and now he must do a little more to push them into the championship round.
He may have left Cleveland behind, but James continues to carry the same burdens.