Heat’s position: LeBron doesn’t have one
With the Heat going with smaller lineups in these Finals, with Chris Bosh at center and Shane Battier at forward, the reality is LeBron James has arguably emerged as the power forward in the series.
But don’t try telling coach Erik Spoelstra that James’ future is at power forward, or, for that matter, any designated position.
“Think of him as a great basketball player. That’s what I tell him, ‘You’re a player; make plays. Make plays for us, one through five, whatever it takes right now. Don’t overthink it,’ ” Spoelstra said.
James has been doing just that while leading the Heat to a 3-1 series advantage. In Tuesday’s 104-98 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena, James scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds before being limited late by a leg cramp.
“He has that ability to make plays and have an impact on every single possession, and that can be the block, the deflection, the rebound, and then obviously the big offensive load that he has,” Spoelstra added.
It’s why you won’t find Spoelstra delineating positions with his lineups.
“I don’t call him a four. I don’t call Shane a four. They’re both our forwards. LeBron is playing one through five, Shane is playing three positions,” he said.
“You know, this team, the way it was built, it forced all of us to look at it differently, even the players that we wanted to acquire.”
He said with James’ versatility, it gave the Heat a different view of Battier.
“Shane Battier … that would probably be deemed as unconventional in other people’s eyes,” Spoelstra said of adding a player perceived as a swingman to a team loaded with swingman. “But we had to look at this team differently, the way it was put together and the strengths of the players, the versatility. From the outside it looks like it is incredibly unconventional, but that’s a strength.”
James’ versatility is what has made it all work.
“There’s only a few players that can guard one through five,” teammate Dwyane Wade said. “I used to see kind of (Kevin Garnett) doing it back in the day where he used to pick up the point guard full court, and obviously he used to guard the five man, et cetera.
“Hasn’t been many guys over the course of NBA history that’s been able to guard one through five and been comfortable doing it. (James) is obviously special in that sense.”
James said if he needs to play big, so be it.
“I had to change my mindset. I had to change it when Chris (Bosh) got hurt. That was a big part of our team, going out with an injury,” he said. “He put a lot of pressure on the rim.
“So I understood I had to change my approach both offensively and defensively. I had to rebound more, I had to attack more, get into the paint more to make up the difference with Chris being out, until he got back. I just had to change, and it’s kind of stayed that way since he got back.”