When Lebron James showed up in Miami he was given a primetime special to make his decision and even a lights spectacle upon his arrival at American Airlines Arena. Now after two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, and one championship he and his cast of characters are again facing the prospect of not fulfilling their promise to be the modern day dynasty that he promised with his “not 5, not 6, not 7” statement. Lebron James is by far and away the best player in the NBA and at the age of 28 could easily play another decade. However if the Miami Heat lose tonight then one championship over three years will be a total disaster in terms of the expectations that was put on this team when the “Big 3” were brought together.
Tonight’s game means so much more than just a trip to the NBA Finals. While Lebron James hoots and hollers at non-calls expect him to be all business tonight, for he knows full well how badly a loss tonight will make him look. The Indiana Pacers have a chance to not only advance to their first NBA Finals since Lebron was in high school, but also totally disrupt the NBA’s plans for ratings domination over the next two weeks. If you were to ask David Stern what he thinks about a potential Spurs-Pacers series, he would probably cough up a lung. The NBA needs Lebron James to win tonight or the finals might as well be aired on C-SPAN because no one outside of Indy and south Texas will care one way or another except maybe the players’ families.
Expect tonight to be an extremely tight game with all the passion, grit and drama of a game seven with a trip to the ultimate series on the line. The Heat are no strangers to game sevens as they were in one last year at this same time. The Heat barely prevailed in that contest and it’ll take another Herculean effort from the “Big 3″ to repeat the feat.
The Heat are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to inside presence, and that has been their achille’s heel in the LeBron era. 7′ 2” Roy Hibbert has only exacerbated this problem. Tonight’s game will come down to how well the players around LeBron play. In the NBA when a team is at home, it seems to spark the bench and in the case of Miami that’s been the case with Haslem, Cole and Anderson. Miami cannot have an off night by players like Bosh and Wade; the Pacers won’t allow for that. For Frank Vogel’s squad the game plan has got to be one of hanging around. As long as the Pacers are still in it come the second half of the fourth quarter then Miami might start to panic.
Lebron can score 50 tonight and the Heat can still lose; Wade, Bosh and the role players need to match that fifty with a fifty of their own.