By Dennis Berry
Here we go again.
If the calendar has turned to May and the NBA Playoffs are under way then that means one: breakdown LeBron James every play. What he did right. What he did wrong. For the past two years, no player in any sport gets analyzed the way James does.
The latest came in game two against the Indiana Pacers. With the Heat trailing 78-75 in the final seconds, it was Mario Chalmers that took the shot to tie the game. Once again the MVP was a spectator for a crucial play in the playoffs.
Maybe the Heat thought they were playing Memphis for the NCAA Title.
Looking past who took a final shot there are far greater concerns for the Heat as they move forward in this series and playoffs. The true flaw of the way this team is built has been shown. All it took was losing one of the Big 3 to show it.
The surprising thing is that it was the loss of Chris Bosh that brought it to light. After all Bosh was just the other guy in the Big 3. He has been looked at as just the sidekick for a three time league MVP (James) and a Finals MVP (Dwyane Wade).
The role Bosh serves for this Heat squad is far greater than many realizes. Without Bosh in the lineup, the holes in the rest of the team come to life. While Wade and James were combining for 52 points, the rest of the team scored 23 points in the 78-75 loss to the Indiana Pacers. No other Heat player scored more then five points.
Let’s repeat that- no other Miami Heat player scored more than five points.
Not only is Bosh Miami’s third leading scorer, but he also gives the Heat many more options offensively. Although Bosh is better playing out of the post at 6’11 he is one of Miami’s best rebounders and can score in the post. His jumper from 15’-18’ is so good that defenders have to respect it and that opens driving lanes to the basket.
The loss of Bosh also added minutes to Wade and James to try to replace him. James played 43 minutes and Wade played 37 in the game two loss. That is well above what they averaged during the regular season or so far in the playoffs.
Bosh allowed Head Coach Erik Spoelstra to give his guys more rest. He could sit either James or Wade at one time and still have a second scorer on the floor. Without Bosh, now James and Wade chance to rest decreases because both have to be on the floor.
Now the rest of Miami’s big men have to step up to replace Bosh. That responsibility falls on Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, and Ronny Turiaf. In game two they did not rise up to the challenge. They combined to go 3-13 from the floor, score a total of 7 points, and grabbed 12 rebounds.
That type of production will not get the job done for Miami. If those numbers do not change the Indiana Pacers will win the series. They are too strong in the post with David West and Roy Hibbert, who combined for 24 points and 21 rebounds in game two.
The Heat can still win this series. In order to do it they will move some pieces around.
First LeBron James has to be the starting power forward. No more starting Haslem and Turiaf in the front court with the MVP. James has to accept this role. Everyone knows that he would much rather play on the wing, but right now he is needed in the post.
He can play the power forward spot the same way Bosh does. He can stretch the defense with his ability to shoot, but also can post up against David West. The only negative would be that it is harder on James to defend in the post. Although right now, he is all Miami has.
Then you have to decide who else to start. That would come down to Mike Miller or Shane Battier. Miller would give you more offensively, but is not the greatest defender. Battier is better on defense, but is limited offensively.
Secondly, someone needs to become the third scorer. The Heat need someone to step up and score 15 points. Whether it be Miller, Chalmers, or Haslem someone has to score. There is no way Miami can win this series with just Wade and James scoring double figure points.
Next thing that needs to happen is Spoelstra has to do a better job. Going back to the final shot of game two, he drew up a play to get a shot for Chalmers. When you look at the stats, Chalmers is a better three point shooter than James.
The troubling thing is that this is the second loss for the Heat in the playoffs. Each time when Miami needed a basket late in the game, LeBron James was a spectator. In the game 4 loss and Tuesday night, James was nothing more than a decoy on the floor. That is not the way you use the MVP of the league.
Would Michael Jordan be ok not touching the ball on the final possesion? How about Kobe Bryant? The answer is no. James has to demand the ball be in his hands when the Heat need a score.
Finally, James and Wade have to come through in the fourth quarter. Both players missed shots or free throws late in the game that the Heat needed. While both players carried the Heat all night, they let them down in the final minutes with missed shots.
To blame this loss solely on James is not right. There were plenty of factors that caused to the Heat to lose and plenty of blame to go around.