2011 NBA Finals: 6 Reasons LeBron Will Step Up in Game 6
The media has been quick to point out his failures in the fourth quarter. Really, he has not performed up to his standards in any quarter thus far.
With two games remaining, no room for error and Dwyane Wade ailing, LeBron has the chance to prove everybody wrong.
Let's take a look at six reasons why he will silence critics in Game 6.
1. He Has Had Enough
At some point, all of the criticism that LeBron is hearing has to get to him.
For the most part, LeBron has been praised his entire career.
He has never had to deal with this level of censure in his basketball life.
Eventually most people, after struggling to deal with it for some time, would get tired of it and respond on the court with their play. LeBron could be on the verge of doing this.
Game 6 is the first of his golden chances to change perceptions of him as a player.
If he doesn't, he won't have a Game 7 to fix things.
2. He Will Finally Get It
When LeBron James made his first NBA Finals appearance in 2007, he still did not get it.
He had his superstar-like performance in the Conference Finals against Detroit, and that was what he lived for.
No matter what he said, he did not live for the win. Many great athletes say they play to win, but deep down, there are a couple of things in their mind that come before winning.
For LeBron, statistics are too prevalent between the ears.
He might have had the ugliest, most meaningless triple-double in the history of the Finals in Game 5.
He may not know of any other way to play. Putting on a show is what LeBron does. That is the difference between him and the Dwyane Wade. Wade is a competitor first, entertainer second, while LeBron is exactly the opposite.
LeBron makes the flamboyant block from behind in the open on a fast break.
Wade comes across the lane and challenges 7'1" Tyson Chandler at the rim.
Wade's block in Game 4 was something that LeBron would have never attempted.
Still, he may finally figure it out.
LeBron is the best athlete in the NBA, and he may have a body that we will never see again in our lifetimes.
He needs to use it. Every loose ball needs to trigger something in his mind that he should dive. Every rebound should be his. Every seemingly easy shot at the rim needs to be challenged by him.
It is time for LeBron to play with the win on his mind, and Game 6 is the perfect opportunity.
3. For Once, He Will Live Up to His Promise
When he was drafted, he said his "huge" goal was to bring a championship to Cleveland. He did not stop there. Unfortunately, he added that he will not stop until he gets it.
Well, Cleveland only made one appearance in the Finals with LeBron on the roster. They were swept by San Antonio.
The problem is not that he left the team; it was that he did not keep his promise.
Apparently, his mother never told him not to make a promise he can't keep.
In Cleveland, all eyes were always on LeBron.
In Miami, all eyes are on the "Big Three."
LeBron has been able to hide with two other superstars on his side.
When Dwyane Wade injured his hip in Game 5, it was LeBron's chance to come out of hiding and own all eyes in the arena once again.
But, he did not jump at the opportunity.
Maybe he will realize that in order to get to the seven or eight championships he said they would bring to Miami, he needs to turn back the clock and play like he did in Cleveland.
He needs to act like he has no help, because that might be the only way to break out of this funk.
In front of the home crowd, where he made big shots against Boston, maybe LeBron will finally keep his promise and bring championship number one in the "Big Three" era to Miami.
4. He Is Too Good
Throughout the entire 2010-11 NBA season, the Miami Heat were criticzied for their inability to close out games.
LeBron has been chastised by the media for his inability to make big shots.
In the Boston series, he proved that he may in fact have the vaunted "clutch gene."
He led the team throughout that series and made all the big shots to eliminate the Celtics.
Now, the pressure is at a whole new level, and LeBron's play has reached an entirely new level of disappointment.
The last time LeBron played this poorly in consecutive games was, well, never.
The point is, he is too good of a player to continue to play this dreadful.
LeBron is too talented to not have a phenomenal game soon.
It is like golf. If a really good player hits some terrible shots on the front nine, he is bound to play better on the back nine.
If someone plays far below their ability for a stretch, odds are that they will eventually play up to or above their ability and shoot a score right around their handicap.
Well, LeBron, it's the back nine, and it's time to get yourself back to your handicap.
5. Erik Spoelstra Will Help Him
Erik Spoelstra has coached very well throughout this series in games. Still, he could be doing better at making adjustments in between games.
A lot of this relates to the LeBron James.
LeBron has never looked so hesitant. He will take two dribbles, and instead of continuing strong to the basket as he normally does, he will make a meaningless kick-out pass.
It is almost as if he is afraid to isolate himself, or even do a single thing outside of the offense in the half-court set.
This may be due to something Spoelstra is doing behind the scenes. Maybe he has been imminent on the structure of the offense. Still, Dwyane Wade has not been afraid to attack by himself and get to the free-throw line.
Spoelstra needs to have a man-to-man chat with LeBron.
He needs to explain to him that this is his chance to take over this team. LeBron can act like a leader in front of the camera with a terrible pregame speech, but the real leaders do it by example on the floor.
Good scorers like to get to the free-throw line when the jump shot is a little off.
LeBron is 9-for-33 on jump shots in the series, yet he has failed to even try to attack the rim consistently to look for legitimate ways to get to the free-throw line.
It is time for Spoelstra to give LeBron a vote of confidence.
If he does, look for the LeBron we are all used to watching, shooting about 12 free throws en route to a win.
6. Dwyane Wade Will Not Let Him Fail
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are best friends.
LeBron came to Miami to play with Wade.
Despite the fact they are part of a "Big Three," these two do interviews together.
Aside from the notion of the "Big Three," the relationship between LeBron and Wade has been the story behind this Miami Heat team.
In an interview after Game 3, Dwyane Wade said that he felt he needed to be a leader because he had been here before.
It is as if LeBron never even went to a Finals while with Cleveland.
No, Mr. Wade, you're not the only one who has been here. You're just the only one that knows how to win here.
Yes, Wade proved that he knows how to get it done once he reaches the Finals. It is time for him to look his best friend in the eyes and teach him.
Obviously, Wade is not going to give LeBron a lesson on his world-class Euro Step.
But, he needs to tell him that his hip pain is excruciating. He needs some help right now. In fact, he needs LeBron to lead this team in Game 6.
If LeBron hears that from his best friend, who also happens to be his sidekick on the basketball court, watch out Dallas.
LeBron could be in for one of the most unexpected performances in NBA Finals history.