LeBron James said before last night that he was about to play the biggest game of his life.Well, he lost that game. Now the next biggest game of his life on Sunday, could define his entire career. And not for the better.
LeBron may not have shrunk from the big moment in Game 5, but he certainly didn’t rise to it. Yes, he had a triple double, but it mostly inconsequential.
He didn’t make a 3-pointer, only shot two free throws, and only had one gimme layup with 30 seconds in the fourth quarter. (He’s now played five 4th quarters and scored 11 total points.)
James keeps saying that he and the Heat are going to play better, just like they did when the team struggled to find itself at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, he’s only got one game left to find himself before his season is over.
Here’s what other people are saying:
Whatever the explanation, we’ve come a long way from LeBron James, Best Basketball Player On Earth. Really, don’t fool yourself into thinking his triple double in Game 5 was anything less than a failure.
These Dallas Mavericks go to great lengths to mess with him, hurling insults and insinuations with regularity that they never would’ve dared with different superstars. Why? Because they believe it messes with his mind. They believe the words will fester within him, keep him thinking when he ought to be reacting.
So what we have here, I believe, is a failure to communicate. Spoelstra wants James to pretend this is no big deal. James wants to acknowledge that something enormous is happening. And James is right. It is enormous, and it is happening. Entering this offseason, James’ reputation is on the verge of being damaged on the court as much as The Decision hurt him off it. He’s a mess, and he’s thrashing about for the right answers.
Overall, he scored 17 points but needed 46 minutes to do it. The average NBA player this season, per 46 minutes, scored 18.9 points. …
Again, this isn’t just any random guy. This is a two-time MVP who was the most coveted free agent in NBA history. This is one of the best players of all time, regardless of what happens in the next few days. This is the reason the Heat had a championship parade last July … because when they got LeBron, they got the promise of dominating games like this one.
Or so they thought.
James is closer to his goal than ever before … but also uncomfortably far away. Miami is still in a good position, hard as it is to see with clarity from here. Down 3-2 in the series, yes, but coming home for soothing. Great teams, champions, win Game 6 and 7 at home. It has happened three of seven times the champ has come home trailing, 3-2, including just last year. But now there is no margin for error. None. And one hot night by this great-shooting Dallas team, which made an absurd 13 of 19 threes against a great Miami defence Thursday, ends your season and begins another avalanche of criticism all over again. This is as vulnerable as Miami has felt all postseason.
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