Well, maybe more so than you think.
For now, let's leave out the possibility of Chris Bosh missing the remainder of the series. Yes, that is certainly a concern. However, personally I am more concerned with the reaction and body language of LeBron James to a play that occurred during the second half of last night's game (and I'm not talking about the final play call with 8 seconds left, but more on that in a bit).
Did you happen to see Danny Granger come down on top of LeBron with his elbow to his head, which resultantly knocked LeBron's headband off?
Well, as you might expect the two proceeded to then have a (no pun intended) heated exchange. This is understandable, if not expected in playoff basketball. Besides, how would you react if someone was extra physical with you and perhaps took a cheap shot in the process.
More importantly, how did LeBron react?
See for yourself:
Who do you think is the aggressor here?
Who you think does and doesn't want any part of this?
Let me play my own version of "create a caption" right here:
Granger (the bully who just knocked down a schoolboy's books): "Yeah, I just elbowed you in your head...... what are you gonna do about it?"
LeBron (the shocked schoolboy): "My gosh Danny, why did you do that?" "No need to get so physical, I-I-I-I don't want any trouble, I-I-I-I just came here to play ball."
Danny: "Yeah, that's what I thought."
LeBron, let me introduce to yourself.
You're LeBron James, baddest baller on the planet. NBA MVP 3 of the last 4 years.
Career averages: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists
Playoff averages: 28 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists
All-star appearances: 8
Now let me introduce you to Danny Granger.
Career Averages: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Playoff averages: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
All-star appearances: 1
No offense to Danny Granger, but who the %@#$ is this guy?!?
How dare he get into you face like that?!?
Who the %@%$ does he think he is %@#$ing with?!?
Excuse me. Let me gather myself.
LeBron, you can't let this type of stuff slide - seriously. Dudes will start talking back, disrespecting you and your fam (the Heat), and just acting all sorts of stupid. What's worse is that they may start to gain confidence and even start to believe they are on your level. I get the whole cool thing. I get the whole, "I don't even take this dude serious" thing. But that's regular season drama. Now it's the playoffs. This is the time where you have to put these little guys in their proper place and exert your will. Not just for yourself, but to set an example for your team.
Do you dig what I mean???
I wonder, what can I say or show you to convey my sentiments?
How about this:
I don't have to introduce the guy on the left, do I?
LeBron, I'm not trying to compare you to Jordan. That's not fair and no one should.
But learn from this.
If a dude tries to punk you or, more importantly, someone on your team, you get right up in their mug and let them know that ish ain't going down around here. And then after you get up in their mug, you convince them how serious you are by letting your ice grill linger on:
By the way, that was game 7 of the 1992 conference semi-finals. You might recall that the upstart Knickerbockers from New York pushed the defending champion Bulls to 7 games - mostly by being physical and beating the crap out of Scottie Pippen.
Then in game 7, the encounter above happened.
Oh yeah, then Mike dropped 42.
Then the Bulls beat the Knicks in game 7.
Then the Bulls beat the Knicks in '93.
Then the Bulls beat the Knicks in '96.
Homie, your body language has all sorts of repercussions towards the outcome of a game and even your career. You've been down this path before. Enough is enough. There are just certain things you can't accept.......
Speaking of which,
For goodness sake, can someone tell me what planet coach Spoelstra is on?
Down three with 8 seconds to go in last night's game, you think he would be drawing up a play on the final possession of the game for either Wade or LeBron - you know, the two best players on earth (or at least the eastern conference). So what did he do? Utilize Wade as a passer and LeBron as a screener...... to get Mario Chalmers a three point shot???
Wait a minute. What?
Mind you, this was about a week after the Heat lost game 4 against the Knicks.
You remember, the game in which LeBron had 6 points in the last minute of the game to bring Miami within two points with ten seconds to go...... only to have coach Spoelstra forgo LeBron's torrid play and, in his infinite wisdom, put the ball in Wade's hands for the final shot. How could you not give LeBron the ball in that situation?
Enough is enough.
There was a great article in ESPN the magazine earlier in the year about how meticulous coach Spoelstra is with regards to game preparation. He studies films, stats, as well as player and team tendencies. Apparently the dude doesn't get much sleep. Having been in the Miami Heat locker room myself and seeing their chalk board, I can attest to the fact that this guy has around 10 different plays and team mantras written on the board. That's 10 different plays for both sides of the ball.
There is no questioning his diligence and intellect. But, how much brains do you need to realize you have the best player in the world on your team and sometimes it's as simple as getting him the ball in a position where he has the best chance to be successful?
Coach Spoelstra, let me introduce you to LeBron James.
LeBron, one of the members of your team, is NBA MVP 3 of the last 4 years......see above for the rest.
If you have the best player in the world on your team, you use him to obliterate opponents. That's your strength. You don't use him as a decoy. You don't take the ball out of his hands.
You may say that LeBron has certain flaws, that makes Spoelstra not want to give him the ball at the end of games. My goodness, he just might have to actually coach and find a way to correct those flaws. Is such a thing possible?
Beyond scouting and film, part of being a great coach is knowing how to manage your personnel (which varies and can fluctuate on a yearly basis). It's knowing how to get the best out of each specific player - no matter how regal or how provincial they are. It's knowing how manage egos. It's knowing how to instill confidence and discipline at the same time. While ultimately it's up to LeBron to rise to the occasion and demand the ball in those situations, don't you think it would be nice if Spoelstra helped him out - just a little - with all of that. If LeBron has certain flaws, shouldn't Spoelstra - in the best interest of his team - try to help LeBron overcome those flaws by at the very least putting the ball in LeBron's hands to instill confidence and aggression?
How about if coach Spoelstra said this during the final timeout:
"LeBron, we're gonna get you the ball and you are going to take the last shot. I don't care if they double you and someone else is open. We are going to live and die with you taking - and making - the last shot for us."
And one last thing.
For all that's said about X's and O's, it means nothing if you can't make series adjustments, let alone in-game adjustments. With Bosh down for the series, is it really thinking that far outside of the box to give Eddie Curry a shot in the lineup? You might contest that he doesn't play defense or rebound. But he is big and takes up space. I would rather him guard Hibert than Anthony. And, even without playing the last two years he is still more of an offensive threat that Anthony and Turiaff, combined. What's the worst that could happen? You lose home court advantage? Oh wait......
Coach Spoelstra, it's time for you to step up to the plate.
Coaches are supposed to help their team and their players be the best they can be. And that holds true no matter of much of super stars they are.