LeBron James is the man with many faces. The Heat didn’t get Charles Barkley-face tonight, Jordan-face or even Magic-face. Instead, James put on his point guard shoes and danced around on the perimeter managing the offense George Hill-style. It’s almost like he was worried Roy Hibbert would come racing out of the first row and tackle him if he drove to the basket. Mike Miller and Ray Allen rained hell from behind the arc, while Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were predictably butchered by Tony Parker; but in an interesting development, Miami’s Big Three played more like the “Smedium Trio”.
We rarely saw the James who would blast off into the lane like he was shot out of a cannon to attack the rim. Credit should go to the Spurs, but James might not be able to afford to focus on defending Tony Parker, if he can’t keep his offense from sputtering. Parker sliced through the Heat defense like they were a sirloin steak, but Miami’s elite offense could only muster 88 points.
The Heat’s Big Three have to contribute more than 48 points on a nightly basis if they want to realistically repeat as champs. That only averages out to about 16 points per player. That’s average. If Steph Curry and Klay Thompson could set the Spurs on fire, then it’s not too much to ask for James, Bosh and Wade – or two out of the three – to chip in at least 20 each. Those extra 12 points thrusts Miami across the 100 point threshold and gives them a 1-0 series lead.
Bosh couldn’t rest on his laurels, but he definitely can’t regress. Three years post-Decision, Bosh hasn’t resembled the All-Star power forward Pat Riley believed he’d acquired in a minute. Not only did he disappear with Wade and James, he’s became the bizarro-Tim Duncan in Miami’s offense. He’s a power forward who looks like a fish drowning on the shore at center and there’s probably not much the Heat can do about it.
Bosh thrives on mid-range twos, but the Spurs pushed him out to the three-point arc where he shot 0-4. He can’t match Duncan’s production on the boards, Duncan’s rim-protection or his offensive output. He’s getting outclassed and if he continues playing like a $100 million stretch-4, it’s naptime for Miami.
And then there’s Wade. He can’t handle anymore pressure on his knees; therefore, moving forward, the onus is doubled down on James and Bosh. We can expect LeBron to rise to the occasion, go above and beyond. But to what extent? So that leaves Bosh. And the thought of things hinging on Bosh shouldering more than the usual burden and coming through has to be a frightening thought, if you’re invested in a Heat repeat.