Upon his arrival to South Beach, LeBron James made a proclamation his Miami Heat would win multiple championships. This statement was made as a foregone conclusion, after all Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were on board as well.
What could possibly go wrong?
The Heat have their backs against the wall as they take on the upstart Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals tonight in Miami. For all the drama the series has seen, this evening promises to be the most dramatic. Dramatic because Indiana will knock off the Heat and make their way to the NBA Finals to take on the San Antonio Spurs.
Throughout the first six games of this series, LeBron James has gotten little help from a supporting cast which has been able to compliment him this season. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been listless at best, and non-existent at worst, averaging a pathetic 26 points per game between them. This pair has fallen off as the series has progressed, leaving many to question whether the hype once around them was ever warranted.
While Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen and even Ray Allen have stepped up to a degree to make up for the slack left by Wade and Bosh, they can’t be counted on to do the same in a pressure-packed Game 7.
In fact, tonight’s Game 7 is a legacy-shaper for both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — guys that are at different places in their respective careers, but both at a cross-roads.
Can James rise to the occasion, have one of his signature Game 7 performances and continue to carry his squad on his shoulders? Can Wade prove that he’s a worthy No.2 and isn’t fading into the background?
My answer: no and no.
The Indiana Pacers have stayed in this series through pure grit, combined with strong performances from Paul George and Roy Hibbert. George is a star-in-the-making, and will take advantage of an opportunity on the biggest stage in Game 7 to make his mark as one of the league’s newest talents.
George has shown us moments of brilliance throughout the first six games of the series. Tonight he’ll have a performance which will establish his star.
Hibbert — in spite of his idiotic comments after Game 6 and the resulting fine — has been a force inside, and will again be too much for the Heat to handle in the paint. Miami will throw Andersen and Haslem, as well as others, at Hibbert with abandon in an effort to wear him down, but Hibbert’s out for retribution after his comments.
Guys with retribution on the mind are often a terror to control.
The supporting cast of the Indiana Pacers led by George Hill, Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson have pressure on them as well to step up in the biggest game of each of their young careers and do what is necessary. If I were a betting man, and I’m not, I’d put a bet on that to happen.
I haven’t been given a reason to think otherwise.
Chalk Game 7 up for the Indiana Pacers. It’s their time.
Our Senior Writer Paul Seaver disagrees.