It’s easy to get accustomed to how great Lebron James is.
Yes, Lebron is already a four-time MVP winner at the age of 28. Yes, despite the rest of the ‘Big Three’ leaving more to be desired in this series (and arguably playoffs), James has stepped up in a big way, hitting the game-winning layup in the opener of this series, while shooting over 53% from the field against one of the best defenses in all of the NBA.
Here we are, with the series tied 2-2 heading back to Miami where Game 5 will be played.
The Heat are the defending NBA Champions. They have the reigning MVP. Dwyane Wade, or ‘Robin’, as he’s been called recently, is coming off the most efficient regular season of his career. The only teams that Miami has lost to in their past 45 games are the Pacers and the Bulls.
Everything is fine. The Heat are in control of this series. Right?
Not so fast. If Game 4′s 99-92 loss was an example of anything, it was the perfect example of a reoccurring trend in Heat-land recently. And that’s the burden that Lebron James is carrying.
No, I’m not talking about the media pressure.
I’m talking about the pressure that has been put on James to carry this Heat team to victory despite underwhelming performances from his supporting cast.
Who am I referring to?
The list goes on. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. Ray Allen. Norris Cole.
These are key cogs in the rotation that have either been non-existent in this series, or have performed below what’s expected of them.
The Heat are facing their toughest test yet, and on the biggest stage of them, Lebron is lighting it up, while his teammates are….nowhere to be found.
In game 4, here are the stat lines of the aforementioned four:
Wade: 5/15 FG’s, 16 points, -2 plus/minus rating
Bosh: 1/6 FG’s, 7 points, -2 plus/minus rating
Cole: 2/3 FG’s, 4 points, -9 plus/minus rating
Allen: 4/13 FG’s, 11 points, 2/7 on 3-point attempts, -11 plus/minus rating
We’ll excuse Bosh a little bit because of his ankle injury, but it wasn’t as if he was helping matters before his injury. He was consistently out-rebounded by Roy Hibbert, while making no impact on offense. In over 29 minutes of court time, Bosh grabbed just three rebounds.
Yes, three rebounds. Hibbert grabbed 12, while Indiana out-rebounded Miami 49-30 on the glass.
Bosh was a huge reason for that disparity.
Somehow, someway, despite playing just a little over 12 minutes of the game, Cole managed to have a negative impact for the Heat as evidenced by his negative plus/minus rating.
Allen continues to struggle from the three-point line, while Wade has failed to step up at all, even after Lebron fouled out of the game in the closing minutes of Game 4.
As talented as Lebron is, and as amazing as he may be on a basketball court, he can’t single-handedly carry a team to victory in a grueling playoff series such as this one.
It’s going to require the “‘Big Three and then some”, and not “Lebron James and his Super Friends”, for the Heat to advance to the NBA Finals.