LeBron James: 5 Keys to LeBron and the Heat's Pursuit of NBA Championship

Tom KinslowFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2011

LeBron James: 5 Keys to LeBron and the Heat's Pursuit of NBA Championship

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is congratulated by teammates Chris Bosh  #1 and Mario Chalmers #15 after James drew the foul in the second half against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 201
    Elsa/Getty Images

    LeBron James and the Miami Heat are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, and for a team that has had its struggles this year, it's a rewarding feeling for the Heat and their fans.

    However, the series against the Celtics isn't over, and there are still plenty of roadblocks that could keep James and company from the biggest stage in basketball. Miami isn't a perfect team, and there are things that will prove crucial in the Heat's pursuit of their first championship with the new Big Three.

    Inside, we'll detail those factors and talk about what needs to be done to ensure that a championship comes back to South Beach.

    As always, if you have any comments, make sure to leave them below, along with your predictions for the NBA Finals. Will LeBron and Dwyane Wade win their first title together, or will another team emerge as the top dog?

No. 1: Late-Game Execution

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat tries to pass the ball as Glen Davis #11 and Delonte West #13 of the Boston Celtics defend in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 9, 2011 at the TD Garden i
    Elsa/Getty Images

    We have talked about this all year long.

    However, this is when those crunch-time moments become magnified, and it's time for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to take over and make those sequences their own.

    We saw it last night, as James hit some big shots and even Chris Bosh had a crucial tip-in, putting the dagger in the Celtics and inching the Heat to the verge of the Eastern Conference Finals.

    LeBron has been criticized for his lack of a clutch gene, but in the end, he has to be the one to slash to the basket and draw contact from the opposing team. If he is settling for outside jump shots, then he and the Heat are going to fall short.

    Furthermore, the Heat have to diversify their game plan and confuse defenses. Going to an isolation with Wade or James will be disaster, especially against the tougher defensive teams.

    This will be the most interesting dynamic for this Heat team.

No. 2: Covering Up Glaring Weaknesses

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 07: Mike Bibby #0 of the Miami Heat takes a shot in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE T
    Elsa/Getty Images

    There is no denying that the Miami Heat have a major hole at the point guard position.

    Both Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers are awful players on the defensive end of the floor, and it's not going to get easier for the Heat as they progress in the playoffs. Miami still has to deal with Rajon Rondo, but then guys like Derrick Rose, Jason Kidd and Russell Westbrook could be waiting down the line.

    That is a scary thought if you're a Heat fan, and it's going to be up to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to help on the defensive end and help shut down the opposing point guard, because Miami cannot allow the opposing team to set the tone and dominate the game.

    We saw it in Game 3, when the Heat allowed Rondo to carve them up on one arm and the Celtics won in a blowout.

    If Miami makes a determined effort to slow down the opposing point guard, then it's going to see success deep into the postseason.

No. 3: Erik Spoelstra

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 21: Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat during their game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 21, 2011 in Philade
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    This playoff run could make or break Erik Spoelstra.

    Once this team was assembled, everyone thought it was only a matter of time before Pat Riley swooped down from the front office to turn this team into a championship winner. Furthermore, when the Miami Heat struggled at times this year, the pressure rose and the whispers grew louder.

    Now it's playoff time, and the spotlight is even brighter. You have to wonder if Spoelstra can manage to juggle these personalities and get them to play at the highest level. He also has to put his team in the best position to make plays.

    I'm talking about making the right substitutions, knowing how to play matchups and not letting the moment overwhelm his decision-making. It's not easy to coach a team with two superstars on it, but if Spoelstra can get a championship out of this group, he'll always have a job in this league.

    Just because he has immense talent on the roster doesn't mean you roll the ball out there and hope for the best. If the Heat win the title, it will because Spoelstra stepped up and thrived on the biggest stage in basketball.

No. 4: Interior Toughness

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 07:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat winces after a play in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Between Games 3 and 4, Chris Bosh underwent a transformation.

    Bosh went from someone who was a total no-show in the first game in Boston to someone who played great defense on Kevin Garnett, who torched him in the previous contest, and managed to get the crucial tip-in basket off a LeBron James miss to help bury the Celtics last night.

    While all of the attention is on James and Dwyane Wade, the reality is that Bosh has to show up for the Heat to win games and win a championship. He's not a natural grinder, but he has shown that he can toughen up, rise up and play great basketball in a hostile environment, even after some early struggles in Game 4.

    To win a championship, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone; you have to go above and beyond your skills and make plays that separate champions from contenders. Bosh did that last night, and if he can play like that every night, the Heat will be near impossible to beat.

    James and Wade will get headlines, but it's Bosh who has to do the dirty work needed to win a title.

No. 5: LeBron and Wade Dynamic

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: LeBron James #6 talks with teamamte Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 9, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Miami Heat defeated the Bos
    Elsa/Getty Images

    As we saw in the first two games of this series against Boston, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can simply dominate any team in the league.

    When these two superstars are in the zone and feeding off each other, picking the right time to defer to the other, it's an impossible combination to stop. However, when they get out of sync and start running isolation sets is when this Miami Heat team gets in trouble.

    It's up to these two stars to find a way to keep the Heat in offensive rhythm, running pick-and-roll plays with Chris Bosh and sharing the ball. If they do, then Miami can beat any team in the league on any given night.

    When the offense breaks down, Miami becomes an ordinary team, and we've seen what happens when the Heat go into isolation mode.

    With LeBron's court vision and passing talents, he's going to be the key to this whole dynamic. The Heat don't have a real great point guard presence, so James has to take over and be the leader and the tone-setter when it comes to dishing the ball.

    If that happens, opposing defenses won't know what hit them.