The Miami Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year and they’re hoping to bring home the second title of the Big 3 era. But while the focus is now on the San Antonio Spurs and what Thursday’s start to the NBA Finals holds, there’s a matter of credit that needs to be handed out and it’s to the whoever is responsible for getting the Heat past Indiana and into the Finals.
Of course, after viewing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s easy to say not much credit needs to be handed out thanks to the pitiful effort turned in by the Pacers. But to say that is to actually steal much deserved credit away from the effort turned in by the Heat.
We must stop looking at this like the Pacers lost Game 7. Miami beat Indiana in Game 7 and that can be easily backed up by looking at footage of the game as well as the stats posted on both ends. LeBron James is the obvious candidate to get all the credit as not only is he always first in line to get the lion’s share of the credit but he turned in a superstar like performance against the Pacers.
LeBron finished Game 7 with 41 minutes and 32 points to go along with his eight rebounds. People got no LeBron after Game 6 for not being able to shoulder the responsibility of leading the Heat into Indiana and escaping with a win. But in true LeBrin fashion he very casually dropped 32 points and spend nearly every single minute of the game on the court.
Hate on LeBron all you want, but he gets the job done when it needs to be done and Game 7 against the Pacers was yet another example in a long line of them from King James.
There was some discussion during the game though that Dwyane Wade looked to be leading the team, and if he was doing so it was by example. But while LeBron actually dished out four assists during the game to Wade’s lone assist, the Game 7 performance from Wade was more personal than it was team friendly.
Not since the Heat’s first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks did Wade drop 20 or more points and he went just over that mark against Indiana. He had also been shooting under 44 percent all series long against the Pacers and while he still hit just above 43 percent in Game 7, Wade didn’t seem to be as bogged down as he was all postseason long.
His knees didn’t look like they were bothering him, he was making plays and he was doing all on his own. Not that he wasn’t interested in sharing the love but Wade used Game 7 to try and secure some of his confidence back and that’s exactly what looked like happened on Monday night.
There’s also the matter of crediting Erik Spoelstra who may have played a heavy hand in keeping this team together after a crushing loss in Game 6. He often gets brushed off to the side as most coaches do who are in charge of superstars. But it might start becoming the time where we regard Spoelstra the way we do other coaches who co-existed with their superstar talent rather than played a subservient and mandatory role.
But perhaps the credit should to the Miami Heat — as a team.
This has been LeBron’s team, it’s been Wade’s team, it’s belonged to the Big 3 and it’s been a team in shambles. Every single person has described the Miami Heat as something other than a unit that plays together and wins together. There’s no questioning the Big 3 is the heart of this team, but the weren’t the only ones taking shots and playing defense on Monday night.
Sure, guys like Ray Allen and Mike Miller took far fewer shots than the Big 3 did, but those two players combined for 18 points in Game 7 and Miami won by a final tally of 23 points. Take away the rebounds by Chris Andersen and Norris Cole, who both helped out-rebound the Pacers, and all of a sudden those second chance offensive boards are going the other way.
So while this is a team led by LeBron and managed by Dwyane Wade, it’s a unit that is playing together and when they do that very thing, they’re virtually unstoppable.