By Craig Fields
It can be argued that LeBron’s legacy and title as “King” was saved when Ray Allen made the miraculous 3-point shot in Game 6. Well, James took his legacy into his own hands in Game 7 as he had one of his best performances this postseason. At the beginning of this series I said that the Heat would win in seven. I thought that the Spurs would put up a good fight but that ultimately the team with the “best player in the world” would win the series. Boy, I’m good.
James filled the stat sheet again going 12-23 from the field and scoring 37 points, snagging 12 boards, and dishing out 4 dimes. He also had two steals and a number of deflections on the defensive side of the court as he played all but three minutes of the game. His 37 points came in a variety of ways as the Spurs continued to dare LeBron to shoot his inconsistent jump shot.
James drained 5-10 shots from behind the arc and went 8-8 from the free-throw line. James, who often looked indecisive, unsure and lost at different times throughout this series because of the defense played by the Spurs, was more aggressive in this game. He was not afraid of taking the jump shot. He was not afraid of possibly missing the jump shot. He was not second guessing himself. He had a point to prove — and man did he ever prove.
The shot that clinched the game was about an 18 to 20 foot jump shot that LeBron drained with 27 seconds left to go in the game. Statistically speaking, when the pressure is on he is at his best. In elimination games LeBron has a tendency to step up averaging 32.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.0 assists a game on 46.4 percent shooting from the field in 45 minutes of week. Those numbers are ridiculous. Michael Jordan’s numbers, while comparable, are not better. Jordan actually averaged a lower field goal percentage and less rebounds per game.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not comparing James to Jordan or saying that James is as good as Jordan — but I am saying the numbers are comparable. Numbers do not lie and James’ numbers state that he has that big game mentality and clutch gene that so many praised Jordan for having.
Whew. Ok, now that I’m off my soap box I can get back to the heroes and goats of Game 7. Dwyane Wade had a good game hitting 11-21 shots from the floor scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 caroms. Mario Chalmers was effective in his 40 minutes of work shooting 6-15 from the floor scoring 14 points and adding 2 pilfers.
Unfortunately the Spurs could not get it done even though they had two guys double-double. Tim Duncan accrued 24 points and 12 rebounds while Kawhi Leonard managed 19 points and 16 boards. Manu Ginobili improved from his dismal Game 6 performance to contribute 18 points 5 assists and 3 steals.
Tony Parker of the Spurs and Shane Battier of the Heat both shared something in common in this most important of games. They both turned out to be major surprises. One good while the other bad. Shane Battier had a spectacular night knocking down 6-8 treys, providing decent defense and pulling down 4 boards. Tony Parker, on the other hand only provided 10 points on 3-12 shooting, 4 assists, and 3 steals. He just could not get anything going in the second half of the game.
The Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls are the only three franchises to ever win three straight titles. The challenge for the Heat next year will be to take a great run and make it a truly elite one. For now, however, James is just enjoying the win. “It’s the ultimate,” James said. “I don’t want to think about next year right now, what our possibilities are next year. Got to take full advantage of this one. It’s an unbelievable moment for our team.”