As much fun as it is to bust the Miami Heat’s balls, there’s really nothing Heat haters like myself can say after their last two games. Having Chris Bosh back hitting dagger 3′s and seeing Dwyane Wade finally pick up his level play was impressive (14 of his 23 points came in the 2nd half of game 7), but it’s all about #6. LeBron James was on some video game shit in game 6 in Boston (45 points, 15 boards & I heard he missed a few shots, but it didn’t feel like it) and hit the dagger 29 footer to seal game 7 that ended The Big 3 era in Boston. If there was ever a doubt who was thee guy for the Heat, Bron Bron emphatically tomahawk dunked that point home in the Eastern Conference Finals.
But with the resurgent, focused & steely eyed James leading the Heat back to the Finals comes even more pressure for the MVP. Pat Riley was famously said there’s winning and there’s misery. And for James, Riley’s words hover over him like a storm cloud. With all of the star power in these finals, nobody has as much riding on his shoulders than “Not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7″ does.
He seems more at ease and relaxed in these playoffs than the jittery & fingernail biting train wreck we saw last June. For some reason, he was rattled in games 4-6 in last year’s Finals and couldn’t wait to tell the people who revel in seeing him fail that.. “All the people that was rooting on me to fail,” James said, “at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today.”
That was after the Mavs won the elusive title that James is chasing nine years in. It was impossible to not think at that moment that he’ll just never get it.
But James has gone away from a lot of the silliness that often overshadows his play. Sure, the bitching and moaning to the refs remains a constant, but his focus and determination is lifting a team with 8-9 guys that no serious contender would ever want on their roster. Yes, I’m including Shane Battier’s useless carcass. Taking charges is great, but I don’t need him on my squad. Ever.
James is carrying himself (officials bitching aside) like a superstar of his caliber should. And it’s the one reason that these NBA Finals will go 6 games. Wade’s mini resurgence is nice, but his energy level and ability to keep up with the thoroughbred Thunder will be tested more than they were against the decrepit Celtics. And as good as Bosh looked hitting long jumpers in game 7, he’ll have to run the floor with Serge Ibaka and fight off Kendrick Perkins for rebounds and second shot opportunities. That’s a problem for Miami.
So that leaves LeBron to be the unquestioned best player in the series if he is to win that coveted ring. He’ll have to be his game 6 self if the Heat are going to have any chance in this series. He’ll play at an MVP level, but the energy he’ll have to use to guard Kevin Durant will prove to be too much. The Thunder win this in 6 and then the misery kicks in again for the MVP. And that’s when he’ll face another summer of vitriol and haymaker punches from those who can’t get enough of his failures. No pressure, LeBron.