There’s no other way to put it. The Miami Heat’s 22-point victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder was a big win for the team and LeBron James in the MVP race. But about halfway through the game, I was fully prepared to pen an article about the boys from Biscayne Bay’s lack of killer instinct. Or for you Game of Thrones fans who like to compare the show to the NBA season, King James and company are no King Joffrey.
But James came out looking like he wanted to show that the crown was tightly fastened to his head.
He stepped on the court showing nothing but aggression, hitting fadeaway jumpers, dunking, posting up and finishing alley-oops. It was an 8-for-9 start and a personal 16-2 run — taking every Miami shot except two fast-break flushes from Dwyane Wade, a Mario Chalmers layup and Chris Bosh dunk.
While on the flip side Russell Westbrook returned and Kevin Durant turned passive as if he wanted to run from the “Slim Reaper” moniker that he hates being tagged with. Yet the Heat still let a 19-point lead drop to seven by halftime.
After back-to-back NBA Championships and three consecutive trips to the Finals, you would think that the team would show the ability to, figuratively, step on a team’s neck when they have them down. However, they often come off like a pack of lion cubs that only toy with their prey.
But by the time James went back to the locker room to attend to his busted nose, Wade’s 24 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists had the Chesapeake Energy Arena quiet. So the question is, do the typical lulls of a big regular-season lead really matter when only one team has ever closed them out in the playoffs?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see.