With Chris Bosh out, even more is asked of the Miami Heat's two remaining superstars, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. So much so, that they were showing signs of fatigue towards the end of Game 2. A game that saw the "Big 2" score 52 of the team's 75 points.
After playing a game-high 43 minutes (without resting the entire second half), LeBron missed two free throws with under a minute to go that would've given the Heat the lead. Marv Albert and Steve Kerr both commented that LeBron looked fatigued after missing those foul shots.
With 16 seconds to go, Wade surprisingly missed a layup that would have tied the game at 77. He just didn't seem to have the lift he normally does.
With Bosh out, LeBron is also asked to guard the Pacers' power forward on the defensive end of the court. That would be the punishing David West.
James commented on defending the 4-spot after the game:
It's a lot more taxing being in there with bigger guys. [Defense] is the biggest difference. When you're on the perimeter, there's more space. The interior is more cramped and physical.
James also commented on his lack of rest after the game:
I wouldn't say 'concerned', but hopefully I can get a few minutes here, a few minutes there (to rest), especially in the playoffs. I understand that 40 minutes in the playoffs is different than 40 minutes in the regular season. It's just how it is.
After taking all of that into consideration, it's no wonder that part of Pacers coach Frank Vogel's strategy is to wear down James and Wade:
It’s part of our strategy, it’s not our entire strategy. You look at those two guys play and the thought of actually doing anything that can fatigue them is a little bit comical. They’re almost super-human with their body types and athleticism and they just seem like they can play the game forever. We don’t want to overdo it but we definitely recognize that trying to guard David West is a physical drain. The challenge is he (James) does such a good job now of not letting David get the ball it’s tough to go at him without the risk of stagnating an offense.
Those two "super-humans" looked tired towards the end of Game 2. James even said how "taxing" it is, and he hopes he can get "a few minutes here, a few minutes there" of rest.
The Pacers would be wise to pound the ball inside when James is defending the low post. Make these guys work hard on the defensive end, and it could pay dividends again, late in the fourth quarter.
The longer this grueling series goes, the more the question will be asked: How big of a load can LeBron James and Dwyane Wade shoulder before their gas tank is on E?
Follow Brian on Twitter @coldy4goldy.