NBA Finals 2013: Which Stars Must Step up in Game 4

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NBA Finals 2013: Which Stars Must Step up in Game 4
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Heat have their back against the wall and need to make some quick adjustments before Thursday night’s Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

After perfectly executing a flawless game plan that resulted in a blowout victory, the Spurs are in the driver’s seat. The series remains in Texas for the next two games and the team may be celebrating a championship on its home floor—unless the Heat can fix things in a hurry.

Let’s take a look at which players must step up if Miami is going to change the tune of this series and even things up before things spiral further out of control.

 

Udonis Haslem

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After a stellar job leading the Miami frontcourt’s effort to limit Tim Duncan over the first two games, Haslem mightily struggled and couldn’t stay on the court in Game 3.

The big man logged just 10 minutes on Tuesday, scoring zero points with two missed shots, three rebounds and a block in that time. However, his lack of impact is more clearly seen by looking at the Spurs’ success.

Tim Duncan had a fine game offensively, scoring 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He also grabbed 14 rebounds, helping his team completely dominate the Heat's bigs in that department.

San Antonio finished the game with 19 offensive boards and 33 total rebounds, while Miami was held to just nine and 27, respectively. This was just one of the big disparages in skill and effort in Game 3, which is something that coach Erik Spoelstra must eliminate in time for Game 4’s tip.

Expect Haslem to see more time and use his big frame to box out and limit second-chance opportunities, whilst doing his best to fluster Duncan into making mistakes and missing shots.

 

LeBron James

As the NBA’s Most Valuable Player and reigning Finals MVP, King James seems to know a little about what it takes to win. Unfortunately, he’s either forgotten or not following through with this knowledge, as his performance in Game 3 was downright dreadful.

In a contest where his teammates failed him and were a mess defensively, LBJ needed to shoulder the scoring load and put the club on his back in the second half.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen, as the Heat were held in check and James was reduced to a jump-shooter by a brilliant defensive scheme cooked up by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

LeBron scored just 15 points in 39 minutes, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing five dimes in that span as well. He went just 7-of-21 from the field, largely a result of taking low-percentage, inefficient jump shots from the mid-range.

Considering a James drive to the hoop is arguably the most effective and productive scoring tactic in the league, it’s absurd that he was held to just 15 points.

If that doesn’t change in Game 4, the Heat are absolutely doomed to repeat history and suffer another miserable Finals loss for the second time in the past three years.

 

Dwyane Wade

Wade led the Heat in scoring in Game 3, with a measly 16 points. It’s no surprise that his team lost in one of the biggest blowouts of the “Big Three” era, 113-77.

While he’s clearly not himself and isn’t able to make the required cuts and movements toward the rim that normally spark the Miami offense, he still deserves much of the blame for this team’s failures.

Who deserves more blame for the Heat's struggle?

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Superstars find a way to fight through the pain and adapt their game in order to remain effective if they are in any way limited. They do not log big minutes of largely inefficient play, especially not in the NBA Finals—the biggest stage of all.

Flash certainly knows a thing or two about winning here, as the superstar guard has already captured two titles and is in position to nab a third—but only if he can step up and deliver more than he’s shown thus far.

LeBron James is receiving the brunt of the criticism right now, but if the Heat lose this series, history should remember Wade as the goat. 

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