In order to win their first NBA title together, Dwyane Wade had to sacrifice his own standing with the team, clearing the way for LeBron James to become the number one go to guy on the floor, all the time. Chris Bosh? From a superstar power forward he became a role player with certain duties on defense and offense, nothing more.
Things are a little bit more complicated as they take a jab at their third NBA finals series together. In game 1, a 92-88 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the shooting was spread quite evenly between the big three for the Heat, with James and Bosh each taking 16 shots, while Wade attempted 15. A year ago, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the scoring and shooting hierarchy was a little bit clearer.
James averaged 21.4 shots per game in the finals; Wade had 18.4 shots each game; Chris Bosh took only 12.6 shots each game. While the Miami Heat are at their best when it’s not just LeBron James who does all the offensive damage, there needs to be a clear chain of command if you will, but in the simplest of terms, LeBron James needs to be more aggressive when attacking the basket, and not always look for the easy way out.
The San Antonio Spurs won game 1 because their defense was at its best, perfectly executing a game plan that forced James to give up the ball, mostly to Chris Bosh, who answered with 6-of-16 from the field, including 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. While maybe lowering his head and trying to get by both Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard with sheer strength wasn’t the wisest way of approaching the problem, James needed to change things up a little bit at some point.
After a game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Dwyane Wade didn’t have a problem opening his mouth about LeBron James needing to open his eyes and take a look around. Wade and Bosh hardly touched the ball in that game, less than half of their average touches on a regular day. James listened, and besides his 32 points, Wade had his best scoring performance of the postseason with 21. Bosh continued to struggle with his shooting (only 3-of-13), but he was a lot more involved.
The Heat in general played much better that day, and sometimes the performance is about a whole of a lot more than simply the shooting disparities between James, Wade and Bosh. When a team that is so reliant on its transition ability like the Miami Heat forces only 4 turnovers off the Spurs, who weren’t having a very good day offensively when it came to getting open looks, that’s a lot of points to make up for against a very good, almost underrated defense until late in the postseason.
A must win, no doubt. The Miami Heat need the same fire in their eyes from Game 7 against the Pacers, when no passing lane was safe, the ball didn’t stop moving on offense until an open shooter not named Chris Bosh was found, and there was nothing really stopping the Heat from diving over and over towards the paint. Their driving numbers and scoring from inside 5 feet were a mess in game 1, another thing that can’t repeat.
But once again all eyes will be on James, who disappointed with only 18 points in the finals opener. No matter what he does, and how he does, criticism will always follow. Fame and greatness have their downsides too. He relies on his team, but they’re just as dependent on his mood and execution as well. For Wade and Bosh to play like the All-Star they usually are, LeBron James needs to overcome whatever it is the Spurs have got waiting for him.