LeBron James is finally playing up to his normal levels when it matters most, and the Heat need every ounce of energy he’s got. The championship is once again within his grasp and he’s doing everything in his power to make sure he doesn’t lose it. He’s the league’s best two-way player. He’s an absolute freak physically and will run you over if you get in his way. LeBron James is finally playing the way we’d all imagine him playing the previous two times he’s been there. His now official sidekick Dwyane Wade, is often the first to berate James on court if he’s playing too relaxed. While Miami is top heavy with talent they lack the bench to allow James to log minutes recuperating on the
He’s just totally a different player,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “Up until the Finals last year, he was having an amazing playoffs. He had a game where he struggled and he kind of let that get into his mind a little bit – and he was thinking too much.
“Now he’s playing. He’s on attack. When he puts his head down to go to the rim, you have no other choice but to foul him or he’s going to finish.” The question about Miami this year was whether they were strong enough as a team to rebound from the Finals collapse against the Dallas Mavericks last season. They have answered that question by cruising to the Finals without their best post scorer in Chris Bosh. Not many other teams could lose a player of Bosh’s caliber and still progress to the next rounds. Dallas “picked us apart and we weren’t able to regroup,” Wade said. “And we feel like when [the Thunder’s] picking us apart, our conversation is different. We understand a little different.” The Heat are finally figuring out how to run together through all the bumps of the regular season and playoffs. LeBron James is finally telling everyone to get on his back late in games and the results are scary.
While James has been everything to his team, you can’t forget to look at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s roster of young talent. The road to the Finals in the Western Conference will be running through OKC for the next 4-5 years. Kevin Durant has been an absolute sniper during the fourth quarter. We haven’t seen anybody perform on that level in crunch time since Jordan. The Thunder almost remind me of the Chicago Bulls in the 90s when everyone thought they still were a few years away and they won the Finals. The Westbrook/Durant combo is finally matured enough to be effective when it counts. Westbrook is figuring out how to fade into the background when Durant catches fire late in games. Oklahoma City had its chances in Game 3, taking as much as a 10-point lead in the third quarter Sunday. But turnovers, bad possessions and a Heat team determined to hold on to its home-court edge proved too much in the end. They might be a little nervous with this being the young team’s first Finals appearance but they’ve been in every game. They can score in bunches and defend with the best of them but they haven’t gone through the trials and tribulations that a majority of the Heat’s roster has. The pressure of failure is so intense for James and the Heat that it almost feels as that extra motivation and memory of last year gives them a slight edge in close games. While the Finals are far from over, you can’t but feel as though it’s now Miami’s to lose. In fact, we might have an epic rivalry in the makings as these two teams might be meeting in the Finals for the next few seasons. It’s simply a great time to be a basketball fan right now.