It’s been the talk of this series.
Outside of Roy Hibbert’s emergence as a dominant post threat, outside of Chris Andersen’s physicality and Lebron’s usual dominant all-around play, the ‘talk’ of this series has only escalated over the past couple of days since Miami’s 91-77 loss in Game 6.
The ‘talk’ is of Dwyane Wade and Chris Boshs’ subpar play.
The Heat have the “Big Three’. However, in this series, and arguably the entire playoffs as a whole, it’s been more like “Lebron and everyone else”.
Does that remind you of Lebron’s pre-Heat career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which saw him fail to lead the Cavs to a championship, in large part due to an underwhelming supporting cast?
Well that’s because the ‘Big Three’ Heat are starting to resemble those Lebron-led Cavaliers teams of recent memory.
“LeBron’s thinking: Damn, I miss those Cleveland days,” Charles Barkley cracked on TNT’s postgame show Saturday night.
“We’re watching the Miami Cavaliers in this series,” Reggie Miller said during the TNT game broadcast.
Can you really argue against that viewpoint?
There are many statistics to point out. The lack of points output of Wade and Bosh combined. The lack of rebounding by Bosh. The inefficient shooting slumps both superstars are currently mired in. Hell, Wade’s old knees and Bosh’s wobbly ankle are certainly not helping matters.
One already has seen and heard of the struggles that the remainder of the ‘Big Three’ are currently going through in this intense and brutal series with an Indiana Pacers team that has pushed the Miami Heat to the brink of elimination as they enter Game 7 tonight in Miami at American Airlines Arena.
The question is, why are Bosh and Wade struggling?
Is it a temporary thing based purely on injuries? Does most of the credit go to the Pacers for stifling Miami’s three-headed attack and the rest of the Heat’s supporting cast? Is Lebron not sharing the ball enough and giving Bosh and Wade enough opportunities to get out of their shooting slumps? Or is this a permanent sign that Wade and Bosh are declining as players and can’t be counted upon to give Lebron adequate enough supporting against tough defensive-minded teams such as the Pacers?
Wade had this to say about his and Bosh’s struggles following Game 6:
“We’ve got to do a good job of making sure me and Chris have our opportunities to succeed throughout the game. It’s something we’re going to have to look at as a team. …”"We’ve got to figure it out in this locker room,” he continuted. “And not leave it to an individual to self-will it.”
Wade is stating in the nicest and most indirect way possible that Lebron can’t self-will the Heat to victory (as evidenced by the fact that the Heat are entering a Game 7) and that Lebron needs to give Bosh and Wade more opportunities to succeed instead of quickly entering ‘beast’ mode after a few missed shots by Bosh and Wade.
Lebron responded to those comments with these comments of his own:
“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.”
On the topic of whether Wade and Bosh are struggling due to themselves or the Pacers’ stifling defense:
“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.”
And so the question lingers as the Heat face a do-or-die Game 7 with a young, upstart Pacers team.
“Who is to blame for Bosh and Wade’s struggles? Will the Heat figure out how to maximize their play by the time Game 7 rolls around?”
Lebron clearly believes it has more to do with Wade and Bosh struggling from an individual standpoint. Wade clearly believes that Lebron needs to give himself and Chris more opportunities to get involved in order for not only themselves, but the entire team to play better to give the Heat a chance to win Game 7.
It’s debatable whether Lebron or Wade that are correct with their assessments, but one thing is certain.
The Heat need to figure out what’s the problem before Game 7 —or their season will over.