LeBron's Annual Failure in the Clutch Has Rubbed Off on Entire Heat Team
The media has a selective memory, and it is all too eager to turn on ready-made scapegoats like James.
Why, then, won't the narrative die?
First, because it's too much fun.
No one would care that LeBron James lost big games if it weren't for the fact he's not supposed to.
Second, James has yet to take over enough games to win a championship.
He's dominated more than a few along the way, and he's continued to perform at the highest of levels in the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals alike.
But, he hasn't won the games he needed to win.
Worse yet, the anti-clutch syndrome appears to have become contagious, perhaps as far back as the Pacers series. Then, SI.com's Zach Lowe noted a creeping lack of confidence in LeBron's attempt to close out Game 2:
Taken together, it’s fair to look at this last minute and wonder about James’ desire to act as a scorer in crunch time. The evidence isn’t as clear-cut as the howling critics would like—remember James crashing the glass, shooting a three and missing a layup in the last 3:30—but there is a tentativeness to his play in the final 90 seconds, something the Miami coaching staff might be feeding a bit with its play-calling.
The confidence issue may not be LeBron's alone.
In Game 4 against the Celtics, Wade and LeBron were both ineffective with the game twice on the line—in regulation and overtime. That sixth foul may have put James out of his misery as much as anything else.
But, the Miaimi Heat's biggest problem isn't that any given individual is failing his team—it's that the team itself is failing.
The offense is stagnating at the worst times and leaving James and Wade in predictable isolation situations.
Perhaps James and Wade could do better, but they can't be held entirely accountable for play-calling and execution.
Nor can they be blamed for teammates missing wide-open shots.
Whatever the various causes, the result is a team plagued by indecision in its most defining moments. For all of this team's talent, its mental edge comes and goes.
Just as LeBron alternates between a cold-blooded closer and a David Blaine disappearing act, so too has his team wavered at all the wrong moments.
The Heat don't have to be perfect at the end of every game, but they will for their next two—if they get to a Game 7, that is.
It would be nice if LeBron discovered the cure to his last-minute woes, but he'll need the rest of his team to find one too.
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