Miami Heat: Where Did LeBron James’ Game Go?

By Richard Nurse
Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

Sloppy, sluggish and just plain passive are all words that I have used to describe the Miami Heat throughout various spots in the 2013-14 regular season, but ever since LeBron James dropped 61-points on the Charlotte Bobcats, his game has taken tiring a turn towards those adjectives. Sunday afternoon’s overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls was no different.

“I dropped the ball,” James said via ESPN. “That’s a double entendre, huh? I actually dropped the ball and I dropped the ball on my team …”

James came out looking uninterested as he stood around watching the action. His jump shot was still on its three-game getaway and he did his best to over-pass the ball. It was as if the 10-year vet had finally hit a decade-delayed rookie wall. He even had an early alley-oop that he barely left the floor for.

Luckily, the Heat had something they likely won’t have tonight: Dwyane Wade in uniform carrying the team with 25-points, five rebounds and four assists. However, they stopped going to him in a way that was very reminiscent of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals. The goal became to get James going, even at the expense of force-feeding him and changing the rotation to have him open the fourth quarter — at the expense of Wade going Norris Cole-cold.

Maybe the team thought that the Jimmy Butler foot to the face woke James up or that his little burst to help put them up 12 was the switch that he needed to flip. Or perhaps they just wanted to make sure that he built on his four-point total that put him in danger of losing his 552 game double-digit streak. Whatever it was, it wasn’t working — like his jumper.

After back-to-back games of shooting below 35 percent, fans can only hope that James would attack the rim tonight against the Washington Wizards, but he has been settling and looking tired. And no, it had nothing to do with his Saturday night flight to Cleveland for an ex-teammate’s retirement party.

The shots that were falling just aren’t dropping, and he’s choosing not to be aggressive. This was evident by James not attempting a single free throw in a game for the first time in four years. Forget all of the MVP talk; King James needs to get back to playing good basketball.

Richard Nurse is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr or add him to your network on Google.

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