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Announcers spent the pre-game show of Tuesday night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat praising the irrefutable virtues of LeBron James. Then the four-time league MVP went out and showed all of the Hoops Nation just what makes all those yet critical of him still believe they have a cause.
How is it that anyone of James’ or the Heat’s stature can come to lack passion in arguably the most critical game of their history-making existence? But that’s just what happened at American Airlines Arena Tuesday night as the Spurs easily took a 2-1 series lead by cruising to a 111-92 victory.
Just as James’ 35 points and 10 rebounds hardly told the story of his force in Game 2, his 22 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in the most recent game-line erroneously suggests he had far more of an influence in Game 3 than what actually holds true.
Well, check that—though it would easily qualify as the only thing the two-time defending champs guarded all night. For as James was statistically coming up short in virtually every key area compared to what he had done over the first two games of the series and throughout the duration of the playoffs, committing as many turnovers (7) as he corralled rebounds (5), San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard was reveling in a career night, overall totaling 29 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two blocks, most of them while going mano-a-mano against The King.
“I turned the ball over way too much,” admitted James. “Maybe trying to do too much. They had a desperation we just didn’t match.”
It’s as if the Heat, after all their stop-and-start distractions, all of their overcoming adversity to the point of inspiring others moments jetted to South Beach for Game 3 feeling as if someone owed the Big 3 something to the point of conceding to them all their collective greatness. So off-centered were the Heat, they surrendered an eye-popping 71 points in the first half and at one point allowed the Spurs to net 19 of their first 21 shots, en route to shooting a Finals’ record-76 percent in the first half.
In the aftermath, James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat as a whole walked the talk in the aftermath, praising the Spurs for their poise and execution. But at some point, your game has to be able to do all the talking. And to achieve the level of greatness the Heat and LeBron are seeking at the very least it has to come from a consistent voice.
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