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June 16, 2014

The Miami Heat Completely Failed LeBron James In The NBA Finals

by Jared

The Miami Heat got embarrassed by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, only managing to squeeze out a single victory while getting pounded by an average of 15 points in four losses. It’s hard to believe that the Finals are already over — no one expected the two-time champs, led by the game’s best player (this year’s MVP award notwithstanding), to go out like this.

There’s a simple reason why the Heat lost this series so convincingly, and it has little to do with LeBron James. LeBron played great. The rest of the team played terribly and cost the King a true shot at his third ring.

In Game 5 alone, a must-win for the Heat, LeBron was the only Miami player to play even remotely well. He had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Meanwhile, the second leading scorer on the team was Chris Bosh with… 13 points. Dwayne Wade had 11. Ray Allen had 5. Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and James Jones combined for 2 points.

So, forgive us for saying that this “joke” is hardly a “joke” and more of a “fact”:

What else went wrong for the Heat in this series?

There was no Big 3 in Miami jerseys.

The Big 3 (and now 4, with Kawhi Leonard) showed up for the Spurs, but we can’t say the same for the Heat. Check out the stat lines for Miami’s Big 3 through five games (via reddit):

FG% 3P% RPG APG PPG
LeBron .571 .519 7.8 4.0 28.2
Wade .438 .333 3.8 2.6 15.2
Bosh .549 .385 5.2 1.0 14.0

LeBron scored one less point per game than Wade and Bosh combined. More assists than these two combined. Just a shade under a rebound less per game. Better shooting from deep and from the field in general. Basically: LeBron played like the All-Star and All-NBA player he is while Wade and Bosh played like pedestrians, at best. No wonder all these Carmelo Anthony rumors are swirling.

Do you realize how well the Spurs shot the ball?

They shot 52.8 percent from the field, better than any team in the shot-clock era, including the ’91 Bulls. And frankly, while some of that percentage can be chalked up to an insane Game 3 and luck in general, you don’t shoot that well unless you’re using a cheat code — or, the team you’re playing doesn’t know how to handle your offensive sets.

The Spurs carved up the Heat, constantly cutting, drawing double teams, kicking out to the open man for three or dumping it off to a big man on the post for a lay-up. Guys who used to be stalwarts and good team defenders seem to have lost a step this year — from Shane Battier, who was on his last legs, to Chris Andersen, who bit on a number of pick and roll plays that left the screen man wide open. Give credit to the Spurs for creating these opportunities and knocking down shots, but don’t forget that they had to do it against five guys who ostensibly did not want them to score.

Erik Spoelstra got out-coached, obviously.

And there’s no shame in being out-coached by Gregg Popovich, one of the greatest of all time. But I think Spoelstra out-thought himself here. Looking at Game 5 alone, he made the curious choice of starting Ray Allen (Allen had 5 points on 1-8 shooting), played another starter for just nine minutes (sorry, Rashard Lewis) and gave Michael Beasley 17 minutes. That’s the most of any bench player. In Game 5. Michael Beasley. Who had not played in… god knows how long.

The Spurs bombed atomically for three straight games, and Spolestra was simply unable to find an answer to that problem. Or, maybe he really thought Beasley was the answer there. Either way, not a good look.

At the end of the day, it’s on LeBron.

LeBron knows that. After the game, he said: “Obviously, I didn’t do enough.” As the game’s best player, the blame will always be laid on his shoulders. And don’t think we forgot about the Cramp Game, however unfair that is. But LeBron played fantastically well, as he always has. But for the first time since 2011, his teammates let him down the same way they did in Cleveland.

Maybe we should find another easy narrative besides “LeBron isn’t Jordan” or “LeBron isn’t the greatest.” We knew both of these things already anyway. He’s the best there is right now; it’s his team that comes up short.

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