After a devastating loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on their own floor, the Miami Heat responded well with a blowout victory over the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. What seemingly set these two teams apart were their energy levels from tip-off. Miami came out playing like their hair was on fire, and the Knicks came out playing like a team readily asleep.
A large part of this win has to go to how well the starters played. Four of Miami’s five starters scored in double figures with Chris Bosh not being one of them. The biggest stat line of the night, however, goes to LeBron James. The reigning MVP finished the game with 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals. Although this was against a team that is currently 10th in the East, James played one of the most complete games we have seen in quite some time. In fact, James is the first player to notch those numbers since Chris Paul back in 2009 and the first Heat player to do so since Eddie Jones back in 2002. This is obviously rarified air.
With how well Kevin Durant has been playing, many are overlooking just how well James has been performing as of late. Not only has he averaged 27.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists over the last five games (leading Miami to wins in four of those five), he is doing it on 57 percent shooting. That is absurd efficiency. Outside of the assists being down, these are all above his career averages which is a big reason why Miami is winning games.
This is the time of year that Miami begins to ramp up their style of play and becomes a lot more aggressive against their opponent. The same could be said of James. With many already beginning to crown Durant the MVP favorite this season, James is beginning to respond with a string of impressive victories and stat lines. The player that has won three of the last four MVP awards should not be overlooked. Now that the second half of the season is upon us, expect many more great performances from James as he tries to win his fifth MVP award.