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2011 NBA Finals: Game-by-Game Report Card for LeBron James' Postseason

John FrielAnalyst IJune 15, 2011

2011 NBA Finals: Game-by-Game Report Card for LeBron James' Postseason

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat walks into the interview room to answer questions after the Heat were defeated 105-95 by the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami,
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    With two quality outings, LeBron James had the perfect opportunity to silence his critics for an entire summer. All he needed was to have two decent games against the Dallas Mavericks where he either goes to the foul line 10 times, scores at least 20 points, or just has one of those games like he did against Boston or Chicago only a few days prior. He was performing these feats in his sleep for a solid month, how could he not finish off what he started.

    Scoring eight points in the most important playoff game of your career doesn't help. Neither does playing without any sense of urgency or purpose for a solid week's worth of basketball at the league's greatest stage.

    The Miami Heat held a 2-1 series lead before James turned into a completely different player. After so many weeks of being nearly unstoppable by either being aggressive on his drives or shooting the ball with confidence from deep, LeBron appeared to be a completely different player in his final three games of the 2010-'11 season. He was tentative, hesitant and didn't possess the look of a player that wanted to secure a title.

    After nearly a year's worth of work, James had let the perfect opportunity slip through his fingers. He was just as awful in this year's Finals as he was in 2007 when his Cleveland Cavaliers got swept by the San Antonio Spurs. This time however, he had no excuse because he had teammates that he could defer to if he needed significant help. The only problem was that when they needed him most and he failed to come through.

    It wasn't all bad of a postseason. However, he was still far and away the best player in this years postseason following the Heat's 4-1 series win over the Chicago Bulls. He had proven that he was capable of being clutch and that he could play at the big stage with the spot light on him. James led comeback after comeback and was making his Heat team unbeatable thanks to his play in the fourth quarter.

    Rather than focusing solely on his dismal NBA Finals, we'll take a complete look at his entire postseason. Not much was expected when he came into this postseason, but so much was expected once he was finished. We took the time to analyze and grade each and every game LeBron James played in this years playoffs and you'd be surprised just how consistent he was for the first month's worth of playoff basketball.

    For the Heat, they can only hope next season that James performs well at the biggest stage and not just the first three. If James wants to talk like a champion, he's going have to learn how to think and play like one when it matters most.

Game 1, First Round vs Philadelphia

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    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 16:  Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat plays against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Arena in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Heat
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 97, Philadlphia 89

    Stat line: 21 points, 4 of 14 shooting, 14 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, one steal, two turnovers.

    Give credit where credit is due to Andre Iguodala, he isn't known as one of the league's top wing defenders for nothing.

    Iguodala limited James to only 4-of-14 shooting, but LeBron still managed to get 21 points thanks to 14 free throw attempts. James had obvious trouble dealing with the equally athletic and lengthy Iguodala as he restricted his offensive production. The only problem for Iguodala and the 76ers was that LeBron was still getting to the line at will and that would be a recurring theme for the rest of the series.

    Aside from dominating the foul line, James was dominant on the boards as he took advantage of the Sixers small lineup to finish with 14 rebounds, four offensive.

    The Sixers used tough defense to limit just about every player on the Heat, aside from Chris Bosh and his 25 points, and they would continue to use that to frustrate Miami. All but one of the Heat's victories came by way of needing a big fourth quarter.

    Philadelphia also scared Miami in a huge way on a number of occasions by rocketing out to a 31-19 first quarter lead and then cutting a double-digit lead to only one with a little under two minutes remaining. The Heat managed to recover from both thanks to the heroics of James, Wade, and Bosh.

    Grade: C-

Game 2, First Round vs Philadelphia

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    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 18: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts after a shot during game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers at American Airlines Arena on April 18, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 94, Philadelphia 73

    Stat line: 29 points, 10 of 19, seven rebounds, and six assists 

    It turned out that Andre Iguodala couldn't play defense on LeBron James for two consecutive games.

    Following a questionable Game 1 where he only shot 4-of-14, James was on fire in Game 2 as he led the Heat to a 49-31 halftime advantage that they would never look back from. He kept Iguodala in check to the tune of only five points on 2 of 8 shooting while exploding on the offensive end by shooting better than 50 percent on his way to 29 points.

    He also made his only three-point attempt and got to the line for ten free throws attempts.

    LeBron was so electric during the first half that he actually out-scored the entire Philadelphia 76er starting lineup by himself. In fact, Wade and Bosh did the same exact thing. The Heat's defense was too much for the 76ers to handle as they only managed to convert on 34 percent of their shots, while also needing 18 fourth-quarter points just to eclipse the 70-point mark.

    It was at about this point where the 76ers basically admitted defeat after coach Doug Collins claimed that, "If they're playing great, they're a better team".

    This isn't about Collins not having confidence in his team, but more along the lines of just telling the truth.

    Grade: A


Game 3, First Round vs Philadelphia

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 21: Fans try and distract LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shooting a free throw against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 21,
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 100, Philadelphia 94

    Stat line: 24 points, 8 of 15, 15 rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one turnover

    After an embarrassing 21 point defeat in Game 2, the Philadelphia 76ers decided that they weren't going to be easy first-round fodder. They started out the game with a 29-21 first quarter advantage and even led by two heading into the final frame with Jrue Holiday hitting his three-pointers at will and Elton Brand looking like the player that the Sixers signed him to be.

    The Sixers led for most of the game, but the Heat used a 27-19 advantage in the fourth quarter to pull away once and for all to take control of the series. James finished with a solid 24 points and a much needed 15 rebounds, but it was Dwyane Wade leading the way for the Heat with 32 points and 10 rebounds to support the Heat's cause.

    LeBron played terrific defense on Andre Iguodala by daring him to become a jump shooter and limiting him to only 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. James' defense on Andre would be one of more unheralded headlines of this series as he basically made him a non-threat on the offensive end. Iguodala was no match for a player who was just as athletic as he was.

    Grade: A-

Game 4, First Round vs Philadelphia

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 24:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on during the closing seconds of the Heat's 86-82 loss to the Philadelphia 76ersduring the second half in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at W
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Final result: Philadelphia 86, Miami 82

    Stat line: 31 points, 11 of 20, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one turnover

    LeBron James showed up for the sweep. It's just a shame for Miami that no one else did.

    It also didn't help that Sixers guard Louis Williams was hitting game winning three-pointers from 30 feet out. Miami faced the same problem that they had nearly all series long as they allowed Philadelphia to run out to a huge first-quarter lead, this time with a 28-16 advantage after the first 12 minutes. Of course, the Heat would respond with a 31-18 second quarter, but it wouldn't be enough to complete the sweep as Philly used a 22-16 fourth quarter to extend the series.

    James was astounding on the offensive end, but missed on all four of his three-point attempts. However, he did make 9 of his 11 free throw attempts and limited Andre Iguodala to 16 points on only 5-of-13 shooting. LeBron led the Heat to a near sweep, but he and his teammates couldn't get the job done in the final seconds as Philadelphia hit a number of key shots late to take Game 4.

    Grade: B-

Game 5, First Round vs Philadelphia

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    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 27:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives by Evan Turner #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers during game five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on April 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida.
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 97, Philadelphia 91

    Stat line: 16 points, 5-of-13, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and three turnovers 

    LeBron wasn't the leading scorer in Game 5. He wasn't the second and he wasn't even the third leading scorer, yet he did just what he needed to do to help the Miami Heat advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2006.

    Thanks to Wade's 26, Bosh's 22, and Mario Chalmers 20, the Heat were finally able to rid themselves of the athletic and upstart Philadelphia 76ers. It wasn't anywhere near easy though as the Sixers made a number of runs in the fourth quarter to turn this into a one possession game on a number of occasions. In fact, the Heat led by only one point with 36 seconds remaining.

    James struggled from the outset with only three points by the break, but he made his shots when it counted with all five of his field goals coming in the second half and 13 of his points coming in the second half. His defense on Andre Iguodala however was sub-par as Iggy finally found his stroke to finish with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

    Despite Iggy's big game, James helped lead the Heat to the Semi-finals with a date against the Boston Celtics looming.

    Grade: C


Game 1, Semifinals vs Boston Celtics

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 01:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is fouled by Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 1, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USE
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 99, Boston 90

    Stat line: 22 points, 8-of-19, six rebounds, five assists, two blocks, two steals, and three turnovers 

    When James Jones scores 25 points and goes to the for 10 free throws, wins are going to come easier than usual.

    The Heat squandered a 15-point halftime lead, but they managed to keep it behind the late-game efforts of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. James played the role of sidekick this time around as Wade finished with an uncharacteristically good game against a Boston team that had kept him in check for nearly every one of their matchups during the regular season. Dwyane had 38 points to support the Heat in their game one win.

    James helped the Heat get out to a 15-point halftime lead and would help them keep that lead in the fourth quarter once the Celtics began making their charge. It was a needed game from James as Kevin Garnett kept Chris Bosh in check to only seven points. LeBron was facilitating well as he hit one of his three three-point attempts, but also converted on only five of his nine free throws.

    This was a huge game for Miami considering that players like Wade, James and Bosh all had previous problems with Boston in the regular and postseason in the past. Consider Game 1 breaking the ice for each player as they began to prove that they are capable of beating this Celtics team together.

    Grade: B

Game 2, Semifinals vs Boston Celtics

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 03:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts to a shot during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on May 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: Use
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 102, Boston 91

    Stat line: 35 points, 14 of 25, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block

    So much for that vaunted Boston Celtics defense. LeBron James shredded the Celtics defense like it was tissue paper in the Heat's 11-point Game 2 victory.

    James made the Celtics defense look almost non-existent as he drove at will for the majority of the game. He made his impression felt when it counted with 24 of his needed 35 points coming in the second half with some more huge play coming in the fourth quarter. James led the Heat to a 30-24 advantage in the fourth quarter.

    His best stat came by way of his zero turnovers in over 44 minutes worth of game time. With James controlling the ball and keeping it out of harms way, the Heat were able to run a fluent offense on every offensive possession where he had the ball in his hands. He wasn't playing the role of passer, but he played the role of scorer and that's all the Heat needed to sweep the Celtics in the first two games of their semifinals series.

    Wade and James also sparked a 14-0 fourth-quarter run to pull away once and for all.

    Grade: A

Game 3, Semifinals vs Boston Celtics

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 07:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat tries to get around Paul Pierce #34 of 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

    Final result: Boston 97, Miami 81

    Stat line: 15 points, 6-of-16, seven rebounds, four assists, five blocks, two steals, and four turnovers

    Aside from his Game 4 performance in the NBA Finals, this was LeBron James worst performance of the 2011 postseason.

    James finished with a postseason-high five blocks, but he finished with nearly as many turnovers as assists while also missing 10 of his 16 shots and finishing the game with a lowly 15 points. Even after winning the first two at home, there was no doubt in the Heat's mind that the Boston Celtics would return home with a positive outlook and high hopes of still taking the series.

    LeBron was dismal as he missed all three of his three-point attempts and only converted on three of his seven free throw attempts. James was no match for the high intensity of the Celtics defense as they cut off any lane to the basket and forced him into jump shots for most of the night. It came as a surprise to James, especially after how well he attacked and penetrated the Celtics defense in the first two games of the series.

    The Celtics also used a huge emotional boost behind Rajon Rondo's return after he suffered an elbow injury in the third quarter to break the game open. Boston turned a tight game into a blow out with a 28-15 advantage in the third as they limited the Heat to only 35 points for the entire second half.

    Grade: D

Game 4, Semifinals vs Boston Celtics

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat takes a shot as Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics defends 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
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 98, Boston 90 (OT)

    Stat line: 35 points, 12-of-28, 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and five turnovers

    LeBron missed 16 of his 28 shots in this game, but you wouldn't notice once you saw just how effective he was during crunch time.

    With the Celtics riding momentum after back-to-back three-pointers that gave Boston an 84-81 lead, the ball was in James' hands to send this series back to Miami with a possible date against the Chicago Bulls in the Conference Finals on the line with a win. The Celtics bench screamed, pleaded, and begged James to miss the ensuing three-pointer, but he did not care for what any of them had to say as he hit the shot to tie it up.

    The two teams than exchanged blows before heading to overtime where the Big Three of Miami used their athleticism and youth to defeat the aging big three of Boston. Miami out scored a tired Celtics squad 12-4 in overtime to take a commanding 3-1 lead with James leading the way for the Heat with 35 points.He made two of his six three-point attempts and converted on all nine of his free throw attempts.

    With the myriad of clutch three-pointers in regulation and in the overtime period, it was at about this point where we began to realize that maybe James can convert in late-game situations.

    Grade: A

Game 5, Semifinals vs Boston Celtics

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 11:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots over Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO U
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 97, Boston 87

    Stat line: 33 points, 11-of-20, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, and five turnovers

    There were just no words to describe the final few minutes of the Heat's Game 5 victory against the Boston Celtics.

    With an Eastern Conference Finals berth on the line, the Heat trailed by four with a little over four minutes remaining against the reigning Eastern Conference champions that had boasted prior to the start of the season that the road still ran through Boston. Miami held a 3-1 series lead, but the Celtics had the chance to make this series 3-2 with a date in Boston if they could pull out a victory.

    That would have been nice and all for Boston, but they weren't aware that LeBron James had suddenly become the Kobe Bryant of the Eastern Conference during crunch time. James scored ten points during a 16-0 run that helped the Heat beat the Celtics in five games. This was a series that was expected to go at least six games, but it turned out that James wanted no part of this series going that deep.

    LeBron might have had five turnovers, but the shots he hit late in this game were some of the greatest shots he had ever hit in his career. He proved to his critics and doubters that he is completely capable of hitting the big shot and has no problem in being able to lead his team at any stage.

    Grade: A

Game 1, Conference Finals vs Chicago Bulls

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts against the Chicago Bulls in the first half of Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER:
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Final result: Chicago 103, Miami 82

    Stat line: 15 points, 5-of-15, six rebounds, six assists, three blocks, two steals, and four turnovers

    Talk about being brought down to earth.

    After a terrific series where the Heat decimated the Celtics in only five games, LeBron James and Miami were decimated by the Bulls in the second half after being tied heading into the break. Chicago outscored Miami by 21 points in the second half and held the Heat to only 34 second half points.

    Despite having Chris Bosh erupt for 30 points, James and Dwyane Wade were hardly considered threats on either end of the floor. Both players missed a combined 20 shots, while Bulls small forward Luol Deng appeared to look like the superior small forward. Following the game, there was even talk about Deng possibly being the 'LeBron stopper'.

    However, great players make adjustments and that's just what happened in Game 2. James used his athleticism to his advantage and used it to overpower Deng for the rest of the series. The Heat's game one loss was a wake up call to the entire team as they realized that this wasn't going to be as easy as they originally imagined.

    At least they knew the adjustments to make in this series. They failed to make any positive adjustments in the series following this.

    Grade: D+

Game 2, Conference Finals vs Chicago Bulls

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 18:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat dunks against the Chicago Bulls in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 18, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 85, Chicago 75

    Stat line: 29 points, 12-of-21, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and five turnovers

    After the debacle in Game 1, there were serious questions revolving around the Miami Heat and their possible inability to defeat the Chicago Bulls. It wasn't any better once they allowed the Bulls to rocket out to a 26-19 lead following the first quarter. Following that first quarter, the Bulls had a combined 49 points the rest of the way with 29 coming in the second half.

    LeBron James led the way for the Heat with 29 points on 21 shots while also being the driving force in the Heat's fourth quarter, where he and his team only allowed 10 points to the Bulls. In a tight fourth quarter, James scored nine of his 29 points in the final 4:27 to help the Heat pull away with a much needed win to take away home court advantage from the regular seasons top team.

    This came after a horrible Game 1 where the Heat were beaten by 21 points and James managed only 15 points where doubters had questioned one more time just how far Miami could advance. LeBron eradicated that talk with a huge fourth quarter where he played terrific defense on Rose while also leading the offensive charge in a game where Chris Bosh only managed 10 points.

    He and the team were also boosted by Udonis Haslem and his triumphant return where he dropped 13 points and eight rebounds.

    Grade: A-

Game 3, Conference Finals vs Chicago Bulls

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 22:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls drives for a shot attempt against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 22, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami,
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 96, Chicago 85

    Stat line: 22 points, 6-of-13, 10 assists, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks 

    The Miami Heat didn't need too much offensive help from LeBron James this time around since Chris Bosh scored a postseason-high 34 points, but James' influence over the game was once again felt late in the game and on defense.

    In an otherwise tight game for the majority of the way, James and Bosh led the Heat to a 28-20 advantage in the fourth quarter to give the Bulls their first losing streak since early February. LeBron consistently beat his defenders off the dribble and forced Chicago into fouling. James converted on all nine of his free throw attempts.

    It was a quiet game for LeBron as he only needed 13 shot attempts and six made field goals to finish with 22 points. His defense on Rose came into play once again as Derrick failed to find any sort of offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter. Derrick only made 8 of his 19 shot attempts and finished with 20 points on the night.

    With James driving at will, it allowed players like Chris Bosh to free themselves up for easier shots. By driving, James forces his opponents into foul trouble and it allows the paint to open up due to the defenders worrying of picking up another costly foul. LeBron basically did this the entire series and the Bulls never found a way around it.

    Grade: B

Game 4, Conference Finals vs Chicago Bulls

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 24:  Mike Miller #13 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat get back on defense against the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florid
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 101, Chicago 93 (OT)

    Stat line: 35 points, 11-of-26, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks, and five turnovers

    In a pressure cooker of a game where the Miami Heat a chance to take full control of the series, it was once again up to LeBron James to lead the team to victory. Chris Bosh chipped in 22 points, but Dwyane Wade struggled most of the night and it was up to James to pick up the slack.

    LeBron had no problem in doing so as he helped lead the Heat to a 22-17 fourth-quarter advantage and an even more impressive 16-8 overtime in favor of the Heat where the Bulls only converted two field goals. James was electric on offense as he finished with 35 points while converting on all 13 of his free throw attempts.

    Possibly the most impressive feat of this series was James' fourth-quarter defense on Derrick Rose. Rather than sticking Wade or a point guard of their won on Rose, coach Erik Spoelstra elected to have the 6'8" James defend the 6'3" MVP. Derrick responded by basically being non-existent on offense as James denied him access to the paint and forced Rose into becoming a jump shooter.

    Derrick shot 1-of-9 from deep in this particular game.

    The Heat got plenty of help from Chris Bosh this series, but they would have never gotten to this point without James leading the way. He was nearly impossible to stop when it came down to scoring late in games and it led the Heat to their second NBA Finals in franchise history.

    Grade: A

Game 5, Conference Finals vs Chicago Bulls

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls looks on dejected as LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates after the Heat won 83-80 in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 83, Chicago 80

    Stat line: 28 points, 8-of-19, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals, two blocks, and four turnovers

    It was at about this point where we realized that LeBron James absolutely has the capability of being one of the league's top clutch players.

    Oh how so much can change in only two weeks worth of time.

    For most of the game, it seemed that the Heat had Game 6 on their mind. Even with a Game 5 loss, they would still be up 3-2 and have Game 6 back in Miami where they had gone undefeated up until game two of the NBA Finals. Facing a 77-65 deficit with three minutes remaining, all the Chicago Bulls had to do was basically run out the clock.

    They didn't play on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade waking up however. Wade converted a four-point play in between two three-pointers from James to give Miami a one point lead. Following some strong defense, it was James once again hitting a big 20 foot jump shot to give the Heat a little more breathing room with a three-point lead.

    James then finished what he started on the defensive end by blocking Derrick Rose's game tying three-point attempt at the buzzer to give Miami the series victory. LeBron capped off a ludicrous series against the Bulls where he basically beat the MVP and his team in the fourth quarter of every Heat victory. This came after Chicago had beaten the Heat in the fourth quarter of every game they faced off in the regular season.

    Grade: A

Game 1, NBA Finals vs Dallas Mavericks

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 31:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives for a shot attempt against the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on May 31, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
    Pool/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 92, Dallas 84

    Stat line: 24 points, 9-of-16, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one turnover

    The only quality game of the NBA Finals for LeBron James, he was just as aggressive as he was in the Heat's two previous series.

    He only finished with 24 points, but he was confident with his jump shot as he hit four of his five three-point attempts. When he wasn't hitting consistently from deep, he was driving and keeping the Mavericks defense on their toes. In fact, it was James ability to drive that kept Dallas at bay in the fourth quarter that led the Heat to a four point advantage in the final frame.

    James had an unbelievable swagger to him throughout the game. He was knocking down ridiculous three-pointers and slamming over the Mavericks on nearly every offensive possession. LeBron was confident on both ends of the floor and it translated to success for his Heat team as they took game one of their first NBA Finals together. When LeBron is hitting, his confidence and swagger rubs off on his teammates as it did against Chicago and Boston.

    Once the Mavericks figured out how to play him however, it was all downhill from there. LeBron was restricted to hideous post-up attempts, lackluster drives, and three-point shots that never had a chance of falling for the rest of the series.

    Grade: A-

Game 2, NBA Finals vs Dallas Mavericks

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 02:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 2, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by down
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Final result: Dallas 95, Miami 93

    Stat line: 20 points, 8 of 15, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals, one block, and five turnovers

    The Miami Heat had this one wrapped up. They held an 88-73 lead with a little under eight minutes to play following a Dwyane Wade three-pointer. Wade had 36 points and was the obvious leader of this Heat team on the offensive and defensive end for this game. What transpired over the next eight minutes however was mind-boggling on the part of the Heat.

    Rather than feeding Wade, feeding off of the momentum, and keeping their foot on the gas pedal, they elected to give the ball to LeBron James instead. As soon as they got that 15-point lead, it was gone as James could not hold the fort down for the final eight minutes of the game. James wasn't attacking and it allowed the Mavs to rest and regain their energy on the offensive and defensive end.

    James' inability to keep the Mavericks on their heels gave Dallas hope and they used that to their advantage by stealing the game in the final seconds. The only points James scored following that 15 point lead were two free throws on one of the few occasions where he did drive. The other three points came from Mario Chalmers, who was wide open off of a James inbound pass.

    We can't put this entirely on James because it was Wade's game to win. Whether it coach Erik Spoelstra's decision to defer to James or Wade's decision so that he can rest for Game 3, this was the game that lost the Miami Heat their series. They have Dallas hope and they gave them momentum for the rest of the series.

    Grade: C-

Game 3, NBA Finals vs Dallas Mavericks

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    DALLAS, TX - JUNE 05:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball on a breakaway in the second half while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Three of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 5, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Final result: Miami 88, Dallas 86

    Stat line: 17 points, 6-of-14, nine assists, three rebounds, two steals, and four turnovers 

    For the first time this postseason, it was LeBron James playing the role of third wheel.

    With Dwyane Wade leading the Heat with 29 points and Chris Bosh hitting the game winning bucket, as well as scoring 18 points, James took a back seat by only scoring 17 points on 14 shots.

    Playing the part of LeBron James that night was Dwyane Wade who was actually seen yelling at LeBron following an unforced turnover. Dwyane and Chris were the ones being forced to pick up the slack for James as he suffered from the Mavericks zone defense. LeBron was too slow off of pick and rolls and was restricted from driving for most of the game. He only made one of his four three-point attempts.

    Once again, James worst stat came from the foul line where he only had four free-throw attempts. In games that come down to the wire and the hope of possibly getting the Mavericks bigs in foul trouble, James wasn't delivering and he was forcing his teammates to do all that they could do to pull out a victory.

    It only would have taken a few more free throw attempts from James that could currently have the Heat holding the trophy at this moment. Alas, he was taking just as many free throws as any other role player on either team. 

    Grade: C

Game 4, NBA Finals vs Dallas Mavericks

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    DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat passes against Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks  in Game Four of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 7, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 86-83. NOTE TO USER: User exp
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Dallas 86, Miami 83

    Stat line: Eight points, 3-of-11, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and four turnovers

    It did not get much worse than this.

    In a game where the Heat only lost by three points, their top offensive producer had only taken 11 shots and only converted eight points. He had half as many turnovers as he did points. Miami had a combined 56 points between Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and got just as much contribution from James than they usually received from any other player off the bench.

    All the Heat basically needed James to do was have a somewhat average game and the Heat go up 3-1 and take full control of the series with one game in Dallas and two games in Miami remaining. Instead, they got a player who was hesitant and out of his zone. He was restricted from driving and that led to him only taking four free throws once again. Either way, there was absolutely no excuse for the way James played in Game 4.

    It was an absolute travesty and embarrassment to see James play the way he played. After a pre-game pep-talk before game three where he discussed how well the Heat played with their backs up against the wall, it was James who was feeling the pressure. The Mavericks played quality defense on him once again, but great players like James eventually find ways to score.

    For Miami, there were only two great players on the court that night and neither player was wearing the No. 6.

    Grade: F

Game 5, NBA Finals vs Dallas Mavericks

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    DALLAS, TX - JUNE 09:  Juwan Howard #5 of the Miami Heat drives for a shot attempt against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges an
    Pool/Getty Images

    Final result: Dallas 112, Miami 103

    Stat line: 17 points, 8-of-19, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, one block, and four turnovers

    Only two days after Mavericks guard/forward DeShawn Stevenson claimed that LeBron had "checked out" in Game 4, James had claimed that this game was "now or never". This win was huge for Dallas as it could have put them up 3-2 heading to Miami, but it would have been a huge morale boost for James as well if he could bounce back from the worst game of his postseason career.

    He started out aggressive and ended passive.

    LeBron attempted to set the tone early with a few drives, but regressed and once again began limiting himself to jump shots. Attacking the paint never seemed like an option as he weighed out his options for too long outside the perimeter before either taking an ill-advised jump shot or passing it to someone else along the perimeter.

    Dallas's zone defense was superb, but James should have found out how to beat it by then. Despite recording a triple-double, it really did seem like LeBron had checked out. He wasn't confident in his shooting and had no way of attacking the paint and basically became non-existent on offense. The player that had just robbed the Celtics and Bulls blind of victories had the look of a deer in headlights.

    James had one more chance to prove himself and the Heat needed him more than ever.

    Grade: C

Game 6, NBA Finals vs Dallas Mavericks

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat answer questions after the Heat were defeated 105-95 by the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Final result: Dallas 105, Miami 95

    Stat line: 21 points, 9-of-15, six assists, four rebounds, one steal, one block, and six turnovers

    With his team down 3-2 and just as much criticism from his opponents and the media than ever before, it was time for LeBron to show the world why he dubbed himself as 'The Chosen One' and 'The King'.

    He rocketed out to a quick start by hitting his first four shots, scoring nine points, and leading the Heat to an early 20-11 lead. He was basically a non-threat the rest of the way as he only scored 12 points over the next 44 minutes. In what was the Heat's season on the line, James was playing the exact same way he did in the three games prior: no sense of urgency and without a purpose.

    James was still taking too many jump shots and was as hesitant as ever with the ball in his hands. He passed when he should have shot and shot when he should have passed, it was painfully obvious that James' head was far out of the game. He only got to the line for four free throw attempts and only made one of them.

    At some points in the game, LeBron was a liability on both ends. In the Heat's final game of the season, James posted up a -24 and had just as many turnovers as he had assists. This game was just as depressing as the game where he only scored eight points and it was a depressing end to the 2010-'11 season for a player that had been waiting for this moment since early July.

    Grade: D

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