Miami Heat: Is LeBron James Finally Clutch Enough?

By Richard Nurse
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade had just stormed to the bench after fouling out on a 3-point attempt, and Paul George stepped to the line and sunk his free throws with ease. The Indiana Pacers were up one and about to kidnap home court.

“Everything we did to battle back to that point,” said George (via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). “It just felt like everything was in our favor.”

That’s because the Pacers were comfortable. Comfortable that LeBron James couldn’t hit the last shot. Comfortable that he would take a jump shot. At least that’s what the media told us.

They said that he was scared to shoot free throws at the end of a game, so he would defer. Maybe that was why Indiana’s coach Frank Vogel feared a late game jumper from Chris Bosh. Everyone acted like James never succeeded in this situation before.

You could see the fear in the fans eyes. The Miami Heat’s advantage was just about gone. The tears were on the brink of falling down. It was even hard for me to watch from home.

Then James caught the ball at the top of key, blew past George and watched the ball trickle down the net. He went from zero to 60 in 2.2 seconds. The crowd went crazy, and he just strolled away, nonchalantly like he was born to do it.

“I just made a layup,” James said from the podium. “It’s not like I did something from half court. I made a layup. I’ve been doing that since I was eight-years-old.”

The play was that simple, but people seem to forget that he’s done harder — because one bad series against the Boston Celtics as well as a terrible NBA Finals made the masses think James was never clutch. They chose to overlook him carrying the team, even this year.

Or we can go further back. Four years to the day of the Heat versus the Pacers, James drained a leaning buzzer-beater against the Orlando Magic. Two years before that, he scored 29 of the last 30 points against the Detroit Pistons and last year, he single-handedly crushed the Celtics. You can add yesterday to his tab.

It was a fitting end to a circus that included a record-setting day from a flying Mohawk, a deep desperation three to force overtime and terrible refereeing on both sides of the ball. But what really sucked the life out of the arena was Ray Allen’s missed free throw to seal the deal. Even his mother was surprised.

Thankfully, the triple-double man was able to shut the door and save us all a trip to the ER.

So the question remains, if you give him a dollar, do you still think he can’t give you four quarters?

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Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.

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