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NBA PM: Why LeBron James Frustrates Fans
Posted By Bill Ingram On June 10, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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Why LeBron James Frustrates Fans
As parents, or perhaps as little league coaches, when we first start to teach our young people about the game of basketball, the first thing we teach them is how to dribble and shoot the ball. Those are the easiest things to practice, after all, and can be practiced alone with nothing more than a ball and a hoop. The next thing on the agenda, once teammates are involved, is how to pass the ball. Every kid wants to be the one to shoot the ball, but when the defense is just too tough they have to have another option. It’s the right basketball play, and in the early stages of teaching basketball we tend to focus on solid fundamental plays.
For some reason, our expectations change a bit when we’re watching professional basketball. The better a player is, the less we want him to play great fundamental basketball and the more we want him to make some amazing, eye-popping play to win the game single-handedly, momentarily disregarding the other four players around him who happen to be wearing the same jersey.
That expectation is a learned behavior, of course. We expect that because over the years we have seen the great players cast off all forms of defense to make plays that win basketball games. We’ve seen Michael Jordan take off from the foul line preparing a right-handed dunk, but switch hands and score with the left when a Lakers player prevented his initial play. We’ve seen Hakeem Olajuwon draw a triple-team from the opposition, only to evade it with an up-and-under-spin-fall-away buzzer-beating shot. Larry Bird, Dr. J, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal – Hall of Fame players like these all earned their reputations by overcoming any and all defensive schemes.
Miami HEAT star LeBron James is widely regarded as the best player in the modern NBA, and yet this instinct is not to simply personally overcome whatever defense is in front of him. There are times when he will set his sights on the rim and blow by anyone who dares to get in his way, but there are also plenty of times when, with the game on the line, he chooses to pass to an open teammate. When he did that in crunch time of Game 1 of the NBA Finals last Thursday, Chris Bosh caught a great pass and proceeded to miss a wide open three with just over a minute left in a 90-86 game, the story wound up being that LeBron didn’t do enough.
“When I was in Cleveland we played Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals and I think I averaged 38, 36, or whatever I averaged,” James said in an Associated Press report, referring to the 2009 series where he averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8 assists. “I guess I should have done more in that series, as well, but I can’t. I do what’s best for the team. What’s best for the team, it doesn’t always result in a win.”
To be clear, LeBron did plenty in Game 1, racking up 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists against a San Antonio defense that was geared toward stopping him. Still, because Miami lost the game the media seemed determined to focus on the low-hanging fruit, framing it as if LeBron wasn’t aggressive enough.
“That doesn’t really make sense that he wasn’t being aggressive,” HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra told USA Today Sports. “You have to give credit to the competition. They’re scheming and ready and taking our normal strengths away from us, and you have to have a player and players that have a team ego to understand that next layer of offense. Sometimes that’s facilitating. Sometimes that’s screening. Sometimes that’s executing offense and letting somebody else make a play against a very good defense. And that’s what he showed tonight — even though a lot of people are unwarrantedly criticizing him for not being aggressive.”
There was no such story line following Game 2, a blow-out win by Miami, though LeBron contributed just 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting. The reasons, of course, are that the HEAT won the game, but also that LeBron got a significant amount of help from his teammates. Mario Chalmers scored a team-high 19 points, Ray Allen chipped in 13 off the bench, and seven HEAT players score at least nine points. Though LeBron accounted for fewer points that Miami fans are accustomed to, the team was still +29 with him on the court.
“Offensively, if I’m not in the rhythm, you need to make a couple of plays to make an impact. That’s what you’re on the floor for, ” James said after the game. “You need to do it on both sides of the floor, however you can do it. When I’m not scoring or I’m not as efficient offensively where I feel like I’m missing some shots, I just figure out ways that I can still help the team, even if it’s not scoring as much.”
Over the years we have become accustomed to watching superstar players take over games by hitting clutch shots at the end of big games, and since we need to affix player with labels of comparison to those who came before. In the case of LeBron James, labels don’t necessarily fit. He may not take over a game like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan or Hakeem Olajuwon did, but he still takes over, and he has four trips to the NBA Finals to show for it.
No matter how well LeBron plays, however, he won’t get another ring unless the rest of the team steps up, like they did in Game 2.
Pacers Hoping To Move Granger?
A source with knowledge of the situation confirms a Fox Sports Ohio report that the Indiana Pacers will likely look to shop Danny Granger this summer, though the fact that Granger is having ongoing knee issues could make it difficult for the Pacers to move him. According to the report, the Cleveland Cavaliers would have interest in Granger if he could pass a physical and show that the injury has not taken a toll on his explosiveness.
The issue in Indiana, of course, is that Paul George rose to All-Star status in Granger’s absence, and while George could play the two alongside Granger, his best position is really the three. If Indiana could move Granger and add a true shooting guard it would make them better over the long haul.
Multiple reports over the weekend gave us some clues as to Indiana’s other long-term plans. Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reported that Indiana will chase both Milwaukee Bucks free agent JJ Redick and Atlanta Hawks free agent Kyle Korver. There is also a chance Indiana revisits their interest in OJ Mayo, who was involved in a trade between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Pacers that fell through at the last minute. The need for outside shooting is foremost on the Pacers’ agenda, and either Redick, Korver or Mayo could potentially start at the two alongside George at the three. What the Pacers need more than anything is one or two more players to contribute on the offensive end, whether that be as a starting two or as a spark plug off the bench.
The reason Indiana finished 23rd in the NBA in scoring this season has a lot to do with their lack of depth and outside shooting. They were 22nd in the NBA in three-point percentage, connecting on just 34.7 percent of their attempts, and 16th in three-pointers made with just 6.9 per game. Those numbers made it difficult to execute in the half court, where they were 26th in the league in offensive efficiency. A player like Redick, for example, would not only add much-needed depth but also shore up their anemic outside attack and free up Roy Hibbert to do more damage in the paint.
The good news is, of course, that the Pacers were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this season, and rode their defense all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. They ranked first in half court defense and second in transition defense while allowing a league-low 96.6 points per game. If the Pacers can add a little more firepower to go with their elite defense, they should be right back in the mix for the NBA Finals again next season.
If they can move Granger’s expiring contract, it becomes exponentially easier to do that.
Strong Overnight Rating For Game 2
The NBA Finals Game 2 on ABC – Miami’s win over San Antonio Sunday night – generated a 10.2 overnight rating from 8-10:30 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen. This is tied for the fourth-highest Game 2 rating since 2004. The entire 8-11 p.m. telecast window, which included more than 30 minutes of post-game reaction, averaged a 9.5 overnight rating on ABC.
Based on overnights, it’s expected to mark the 32nd consecutive time an NBA Finals game has won the night for all of television. The telecast peaked at an 11.7 rating from 9:45-10 p.m.
Additionally, the telecast scored a 29.7 local market rating in Miami and a 32.7 in San Antonio.
The 2013 NBA Finals will continue with Game 3 on Tuesday, June 11 at 9 p.m. on ABC, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3. The telecast will be preceded by KIA NBA Countdown at 8:30 p.m. on ABC and ESPN3.
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