LeBron James has had an up-and-down NBA Finals.
For supposedly the greatest basketball player on the planet, LeBron’s Game 2 and Game 3 performances were so uncharacteristically bad that people whispered about a reappearance of LeBron James, circa the 2011 NBA Finals. (You know, the one that pretty much sat around, did nothing, and lost the Finals to a flu-ridden Dirk Nowitzki.)
While LeBron James might’ve vindicated himself with his Game 4 performance, the fact of the matter is, against the San Antonio Spurs, he’s not the same player he was throughout the playoffs.
For example, the following chart details the free throw attempts of both teams and LeBron James throughout the Finals. First, let’s talk about the free throws for the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. Many anti-Miami/anti-LeBron fans talk about how the league/refs favor the Heat/LeBron, but it doesn’t seem to be that way in the NBA Finals, at least so far.
Miami’s never had a game with more free throw attempts than the Spurs. In fact, it’s the Spurs that have had far more free throws. Maybe the Spurs are getting fouled more. Maybe the Spurs are playing more aggressively. Those are all probably true statements.
Here’s another true statement: the refs aren’t favoring the Heat over the San Antonio Spurs, at least not in terms of foul calls. And is it any coincidence that Games 3 and 4 (the games where the Spurs got way more foul calls than Miami) were in San Antonio?
(Answer: probably not…)
And the second part of this is the inability of LeBron James to get to the free throw line. He had four free throw attempts in Game 1, two in Game 2, zero in Game 3, and four in Game 4. This is far below his regular season average of seven free throw attempts per game.