Everyone faults LeBron James for choosing to be more Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan in these NBA Finals against the Spurs. Maybe we aren’t crediting the Spurs team defense for forcing LeBron, who’s known to be unselfish to a fault, to play into their hands and give the rock up.
According to analyst Hubie Brown, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is a main reason LBJ can’t get off.
“Leonard plays the best face up defense on LeBron that I’ve ever seen,” Brown boldly proclaimed, in a Wednesday morning radio interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike.
Leonard’s athleticism, toughness and freakish 7'3'' wingspan combined with solid help D from Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and whoever else is on the court—is as much a reason the Spurs are up 2-1 than a questionable offensive philosophy by King James.
We may be looking at “the LeBron Stopper" in Leonard. Just peep the numbers:
LeBron is averaging 24.7 ppg and shooting 49.4 percent from the field (and 36 percent from three-point land) in these playoffs. In the first three games against San Antonio, his scoring is down to 16.7 ppg and he’s 3-13 from the arc and shooting a court jester-like 39% from the field.
He’s not getting to the line either. Brown blames Heat coach Erick Spoelstra for that madness.
It’s not (LBJ’s) job,” said Brown. “ It’s the job of the coaching staff to put him in areas where he can get high percentage looks .”
LBJ is expected to come out like gang busters in Game 4, but Brown says that may not be possible because the reigning MVP seems hesitant and lacks confidence in his mid-range jumper. Defense is an aspect of the game that never really slumps, so if Miami is going to win this back-to back rings, LBJ is going to have to figure out a new strategy.