According to Brett Pollakoff of ProBasketballTalk, James sounded off on the Heat's seesaw string after practice on Saturday:
I think it’s time. I think we’re well overdue where it’s time for us to win consecutive games. I think we’re at 11 or 12 straight consecutive win‑loss, win‑loss, win‑loss. I think it’s time. Enough is enough for our team. I’m not saying it’s going to result in us having a win, but we need to play with the same sense of urgency as if we were down 2‑1 or whatever the case may be tomorrow night. And we can’t wait around.
If recognizing that a problem exists is the first step toward solving it, it appears as though James and the Heat are at least on the right track. But rectifying the team’s curious inability to get up for every game isn’t going to be easy.
Part of what's so bothersome about Miami's on-again-off-again approach is that we've seen what they can do when focused. In the latest example, the Big Three combined for 85 points in an impressive 16-point win in Game 4.
Of course, that victory came on the heels of a 36-point drubbing, so it was hardly a surprise.
The Heat spent the 2012-13 campaign coasting for long stretches and flipping the proverbial switch only when necessary. During the grind of the regular season, the Heat basically said to their opponents: “We’re just going to nap for about three—maybe three-and-a-half—quarters. Wake us up if anything interesting happens.”
Almost invariably, the Heat would shift into a high gear to salt away games that they’d basically played in a daze. It was a fine strategy for the generally low-intensity regular season, but against a steady diet of worthy opponents like the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, Miami hasn’t been able to snooze through games so easily.
In a confounding trend, the Heat have simply failed to summon the motivation necessary to string together back-to-back games of maximum effort. Sure, when they suffer a loss, they dig a little deeper to pull out a win in their next game, but alternating wins and losses is no way to win a title.
In a literal sense, the Heat cannot afford to keep that pattern up.
If the Spurs take Game 5, Miami will be forced to win both Games 6 and 7. And by that point, it will have been nearly a month since the Heat notched back-to-back victories.
For what it's worth, James' own performances haven't really been subject to the same kind of fluctuation as his team's have. He led the Heat in scoring in all seven games against the Pacers and although his overall numbers have been down against the Spurs so far, his effort has been consistent.
To be fair, he did suffer through a poor Game 3, but that had more to do with the defensive wrinkle the Spurs threw at him (daring him to take mid-range jumpers) than any lapse in focus.
James’ sentiments—and to some degree, his indignation—are important, but talk isn’t going to win games. So until he and his team actually prove that they’re willing to play just as hard after wins as they are after losses, the jury is still out on whether Miami has what it takes to win this series.
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