During a season where Kevin Durant made the leap in winning the NBA MVP award, it is almost as if the general public has “slept on” four-time MVP LeBron James. On Monday night, however, James reminded the basketball world of his greatness in dismantling the Brooklyn Nets by a final score of 101-96 to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
From the opening tip, James was a dominant force on the floor, and the numbers supported that thesis. In the first half, LeBron scored 25 points on just 13 field goal attempts (making 9 of them) to lead Miami to over 63% shooting as a team, and after three quarters, “the King” had amassed 40 points on 13-for-20 shooting with 12-for-15 from the free throw line. However, he wasn’t close to done, as James finished with 49 points (a playoff record for the Miami Heat franchise) on 16-for-24 shooting and 14-for-19 from the line. He didn’t “need” any big-time heroics down the stretch, but throughout what was a difficult battle for Miami, LBJ made every necessary play.
Even with LeBron doing all kinds of LeBron-like things, the Brooklyn Nets showed no signs of quitting throughout the night. Brooklyn trailed throughout the middle portion of the game, but they made a strong charge to re-take the lead early in the 4th quarter, and it was truly a back and forth affair throughout the final period. The Nets placed five players in double-figures led by 18 points from Joe Johnson and 16 points from Paul Pierce, but in the end, they couldn’t match the one-man band from Miami.
Any team that features LeBron James is virtually unbeatable when he has it going like he did on Monday night, and that was on full display. Brooklyn threw everything short of the kitchen sink at Miami, the Heat got very little from their supporting cast, and the crowd in the Big Apple was rocking throughout. Unfortunately, none of those factors added up to the simple dominance of LeBron James, and now, the Heat are in great position to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth consecutive season.