LeBron James is right, he's reverted to his Cleveland days

You remember the ones where he had the best team in the league and then quit on them against the Boston Celtics? Yeah, LeBron had a triple double. Yep, Wade and Bosh were both pretty pedestrian again. However, make no mistake, LeBron James lost this game for the Heat.

His 7/16 from the field wasn't atrocious, his 18 rebounds and 10 assists were great. However, in the moment he kept shying away from shots, content to stand passively on the perimeter. No play more described this game then midway through the fourth quarter when he got a switch onto Tiago Splitter, spent 15 seconds dribbling to draw him into perfect isolation position...

Then, took two steps and passed the ball off to Mario Chalmers.

That was James all night long.

The Spurs were collapsing on him when he drove, but he was still getting open shots or finding wide open teammates for threes. Good things repeatedly happened when James drove into the lane, until he simply, inexplicably, stopped doing it. He passed out of controlling the ball, gave it up to teammates repeatedly.

Maybe he was trying to be unselfish. Maybe he wanted to play the right way. Throw out all the maybes, and what you have is the fact that he's simply no Michael Jordan. When the Heat needed someone to take over and win the game for them, James was passive on the perimeter. When they needed a superstar to step up, the big three were all silent, but James is the one who has to take it on his shoulders.

Chris Bosh was never that player, and Erik Spoelstra's doing him no favors by creating plays for him to hang out on the perimeter to shoot threes rather than using him in any sensible way whatsoever. When this guy gets another coaching job, he'll be exposed as Vinny Del Negro part two.

Dwyane Wade was the guy who could take over for James, but his knee is too balky. He suddenly looks too old, too ineffective. He has to pick his spots, and I don't know if this is a temporary thing with Wade or whether he's simply slowing down, but if it's the latter then Miami's potential championship run ends in 2014. If it's the former, tough luck for Wade to get banged up in the playoffs.

So it falls to James, and he didn't seem to realize it last night. We all thought he learned his lesson last year. He finally got it. I've appreciated LeBron's greatness while still disliking him rather profusely. I've called him the second best player in NBA history and the best player in the NBA by far.

I thought after tasting victory it would sink in. I thought he'd never shrink from the moment again, but here we are. Watching LeBron scared to take Kawhi Leonard off the dribble even when single teamed, still hoping that in the biggest of moments someone else could take the pressure off him.

Maybe he's simply another Wilt Chamberlain. An absolute physical beast with unparalleled athleticism, but a guy destined to be too nice to crush the NBA beneath his thumb and take a fist full of titles.

If he fails to win this year? The questions will all come back.

He's got six more games to answer them. I'm betting that he does it. I think his talent is still too great. He's too good to go down like this. He won't spend another game on the perimeter thinking God knows what with the ball before harmlessly passing it off.

He'd better, because the bad news for Miami? The Spurs played like crap for the most part but still got the win.

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  • If Magic doesn't have the showtime Lakers and instead has a crappy cast is he an all time great? Or do people piss on him? I feel like LeBron is in that mould ... he's a great player but his instincts are not the Jordan or Kobe style score as many points as you can. LeBron is an all time great, but it's a team game and if the team doesn't show up then whatever happens, happens. It's hardly his fault that Wade is breaking down - I guess you could argue that comparing to similar guards this was entirely predictable, but it's hard for you to do it Doug given you've been on the Heat are winners for the next 5 years and nobody else has a chance train.

    Still as a Bulls fan you have to be hoping like hell Wade continues to struggle and the Spurs win ... LeBron to the Bulls in 2014 to ride with Rose, who can hopefully prove next year that he's a younger healthier Wade, makes a lot of sense, if LeBron is feeling he's short on championships. A Heat win just gives fuel that he's proved himself and can afford a sentimental choice of going back to Cleveland.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    As much as i hate Lebron he is the best player on the planet right now. I would love for the bulls to beat the heat and win the championship instead of Lebron joining the bulls. Then if he wants to join bulls so be it. Would be so much sweeter if bulls get pass the heat to win ship!!

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Right. Lebron to the Bulls will only 'feel' right if the Bulls win the title next year. Regardless of if the Heat win it next year, if the Bulls don't, would we Lebron to come down here and essentially pull a 'decision' to form a super combo with us?

    But if we do win the title next year, would the Bulls and the fans still want Lebron? You'll definitely get the 'we already won the title without Lebron, we don't need him' crowd.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I would think everyone would feel chicago is on line for multiple championships if we won the title then added Lebron. I can't stand the dude but if he gets us a ship then I'm all for it!

  • In reply to Shakes:

    It's a team game, but LeBron didn't show up last night. He repeatedly just sat around the perimeter looking ultra passive.

    His teammates didn't help him out a whole lot, but he had tons of opportunities to drive and didn't take them. He kept looking like he wanted someone else to beat the Spurs instead of realizing that he's the alpha dog.

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    In reply to DougThonus:

    If it's a "team" game he craves then Chicago would be perfect for him. That's the concept here. Team over individual. I hate him but boy would he look good in a Bulls uniform. Too much animosity between him and this Chicago organization. Does lebron want to play for a coach who claims he flops? He does seem a bit "hollywood" to me. Would Chicago please that side of him?

  • Would love to see the Heat get beat. Love to see LeBron and the big three squirm. No doubt LeBron is a beast and hands down the best player in the NBA. I wouldn't want them to blow up the team because they are the perfect arch rivals. Who better to hate on than an arrogant group of whinny babies who said they were going to win titles in perpetuity but only have one and now look like they could possibly get the title door slammed on them.

    Could the Super Friends really only win one championship? If they can't pull it out this year I think that is a yes! Shocking!!!

    Wade is the closer and now that he is not 100% pressure flips to LeBron whom has always hated being the closer. So talented it is mind boggling why he struggles in that role it has to be all mental.

    Erik Spoelstra is a terrible coach but maybe LeBron attracts them after all he had another of the most over rated coaches in the NBA in Mike Brown.

  • I want to see the Spurs win mostly because I want to see the well-coached, build-from-within, humble team beat the let's-get-our-superstar-buddies-together-to-make-it-easy-and-celebrate-like-we-already-won team.

    I really don't see any scenario where LeBron comes to the Bulls, but I think we can all see a scenario where the Heat break up after next year, giving the Bulls a chance to seize the East if they can just make that final big move to put them over the top. Of course, when you have the worst owner and front office in the history of the NBA, like most here seem to think, that's not going to happen.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Agreed, LeBron is not coming to the Bulls no matter what happens. I am surprised at the several posts on here fantasizing about LeBron in a Bulls uniform.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I also see no way LeBron joins the Bulls, though would you have ever seen a scenario where Rodman joined the Bulls during the 90s before it happened?

    I guess anything is possible. That said, LeBron in Chicago doesn't feel possible.

    I do agree that a break up of the Heat which gets awfully likely if they don't win the title this year, would leave the door open for the Bulls, and quite frankly, they're probably the best team in the East at that point if Rose comes back healthy.

  • LeFlop is a dushbag. I can't see him coming here but I do see him going back to cleveland since it has a budding allstar in Irving. What I would like to see is Kobe Bryant or Gasol coming to the Bulls in 2014 at a discount and beat the heat or whatever team lebron joins. These stars have to start realizing that Chicago gives them the best chance to beat the Heat outside of Oklahoma.

  • The Heat have some massive adjustments to make before game 2. The Spurs gave them more problems to solve than they've seen in a long time. San Antonio didn't turn the ball over. They didn't artificially slow down the pace on offense so they're always attacking. They shot more free throws than Miami. Their shot selection kept Miami out of transition even when Miami out-rebounded them. They held Miami to 88 pts on their home floor. Nobody on the Heat had 20. Man the Spurs just straight got it done yesterday.

    And that's just the stuff San Antonio did right. Miami is offensively clueless if they cannot get turnovers and score in transition. If Lebron doesn't attack the basket and Bosh is floating around the perimeter then all that does is keep Duncan out of foul trouble. I'm not ready to crown San Antonio just yet but there's no doubt in my mind that they win this series if Miami allows them to keep Duncan on the floor like that.

  • As is always the case, everybody over reacts after every game in the playoffs. Miami couldn't buy a 3 in the fourth quarter. They hit one of those wide open shots and we have a different story.

    Remember last season when SA won the first 2 games against OKC and had a 10 game playoff winning streak in the playoffs going into game 3. What happened next, OKC won 4 straight. I'm not saying that it is going to happen, but I could see Miami winning the next 4 games a lot easier than I could see SA winning 4 straight.

    If I recall, the Bulls lost the first 2 games of the ECF in 1993 against the Knicks at MSG, then they figured it out and won the next 4 games to advance to the finals against Phoenix.

    In the playoffs, every game is its own universe, and tells you virtually nothing about the next game.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You're absolutely correct about the overreaction. The same thing happened in the Pacers series.

    There are lots of reasons to believe that next game will be different. On one hand, San Antonio missed a bunch of open 3's too, on the other hand, their TO rate was artificially low. There were enough unsustainable things that happened to make me think next game could be totally different.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    That happened with Indiana but I don't see how it can be overreaction here when so many people picked SA from the jump. Hell, I'm one of em. They have the size to give Miami problems, they execute better than Miami in the 4th quarter and Lebron James is 0-2 in the nba finals against Texas.

    And it doesn't help when Bosh is the one taking those 3s.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Just to note, I said I still pick the Heat to win the series and for LeBron to get his head out of his ass. However, there's no denying his passivity in this game.

    Like you said, each game is its own animal though. The Heat's situation becomes much more challenging if they lose game two though. You've then got to win 4 out of 5 with the next three on the road.

    That said, I expect Miami to win game two and the series.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    My gut tells me the same thing, and I think Lebron will look to dominate much more with his scoring, even though he will have to get some clutch contributions(3 point shooting) from his supporting cast, probably a different guy every game.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You really think it's about scoring? Okay, they were held to 88 pts so there's something to that but for Miami it's got to start with defense. They're not going to outscore San Antonio. They need to find a way to stop the Spurs attack. The Heat are used to dropping game 1s but this feels different. The Spurs gave them a lot of problems to solve, and didn't even play their best ball.

  • If San Antonio slash Pop can continue to keep LeBron for the most part out of the paint and continue hedging on screens leaving Wade to klank jump shots then the Spurs have a chance to win this series.

    While I don't like Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole from a persona standpoint they both have some serviceable offensive talents which Miami/Riley sifted out of the late first and second rounds. Despite the self-serving fact that I saw the same thing in both guys pre draft ironically the Spurs have armed themselves with Danny Green, Gary Neal etc. fighting depth fire with fire against Pat Riley.

    If Duncan can continue to represent with post prime timely buckets and some big quarters punking Posh and Big Bird, then it remains to be seen if Neal, Green etc. can out shoot(and play) their Miami counterparts. If so, the Spurs can win.

  • I think the Spurs win this series with ease. Just better coaching. And Dwyane Wade is not able to help out. He is critical to the Heat.

    I also think LeBron goes back to Cleveland. They have a bright future with so many young and talented players under rookie contracts.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    No chance he goes back to Cleveland without a change in ownership. That split was really personal. Maybe there's an outside chance he goes there to finish his career like MJ in Washington but even that's unlikely. Gilbert would probably take him back but after some of the things Gilbert said I can't see Lebron picking up the phone.

  • Thanks to the Taj signing, the Bulls will not have anywhere near the salary cap space to sign Lebron in 2014.

    Going into that summer, we will have $45-50 million in salary on the books, Lebron will be eligible for a contract starting at $20+ million, the Bulls will have somewhere between $10-15 million in cap space available if they get rid of everybody, i.e. Hinrich, Deng and the BozoHole.

    So unless the cap goes up to $66-70 million from its present $58.5 million the bulls will not have the cap space for a max level FA. Unfortunately, we will only have enough money for a Luol Deng level FA.

    On top of that we have to find/allocate the money to bring over Mirotic. Not sure if we can use up our cap space and then offer the full MLE to Mirotic, 4 years/$22 million.

    I am pretty sure that Reilly is not going to sign and trade Lebron to the Bulls or anyone else for that matter.

    So yes, even if he(Lebron) were so inclined, the Bulls don't appear to have the ability to go after Lebron. Of course, if Pat Reilly was running the Bulls, anything would be possible.

  • So if the Bulls have to lose Deng and amnesty Boozer, they need to have really great drafts this summer and next, to have a shot at the Finals in a couple of years.

    Mirotic is barely 21 years old, so he could improve for the next 5 years or more. He will likely eclipse Deng and Boozer in a year or two, so that will make up for one of them.

    The Bulls need more. If they can draft two more players like Butler, that should make them contenders. Not so easy when they are picking at #20, but they did well with Gibson (in the draft, not the resigning) and Butler and Mirotic and Asik.

    The other possibility is trade Deng, Gibson, and picks for someone like Love. Then they will only need to really hit on one draft pick or FA signing. Easier said than done, but it can be done.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Mirotic or wasting a trade for Love is not the answers for the Bulls to become title contenders. And all of this talk about Lebron possibly signing with the Bulls are fantasies of the 2010 free agency. The guy isn't signing with the Bulls, too much hatred on both sides I'm sure. If Lebron goez anywhere it'll be back to Cleveland. The Bulls need a homerun type of trade. Lamarcus Aldridge or Demarcus Cousins would be considered as homerun deals but again the Bulls FO are in love with and overvalue their current players. The Bulls core guys should be Rose, Noah, and Butler, everyone else could be trade bait.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    just read a piece on kobe byrant wanting to play past his one year left and wanting to win more then 5 rings. He's loyal to the Lakers but if things go sour there this year, I could see him signing with the Bulls and Lamarcus Aldridge says he has his best games against the Bulls and his hometown team Dallas Mavericks. Like you mentioned, there are some very good players that would love to play with Rose but the management has to make things happen.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You wrote, "Mirotic or wasting a trade for Love is not the answers for the Bulls to become title contenders."

    1) Mirotic is not the answer, he is likely part of the answer. They will need more.

    2) The Bulls lose either Deng or Boozer at the end of the next season. The salary saved will be eaten up by raises for Rose and Gibson. Just to stay even, the Bulls will have to compensate somehow. You know it, I know it, we all know it. The question is How?

    3) In the past, the Bulls overpaid for older guys -- Ben Wallace, Boozer, Hamilton, Hinrich. These signings crippled future flexibility. Aldridge or Kobe could well be similar mistakes, too risky for the cost. Yeah, if the Bulls could get them cheap, but that will not happen.

    4) "The Bulls need a homerun type of trade." That could do it. IMO, Love would be that trade. He is a dynamite player, he would be a great fit with Rose on and off the court, and he is young! There is always a risk with any player, but I think the risk is lower with Love, provided they do not overpay for him. However, we really cannot know. You may be right on this one. I try to evaluate the cost/potential ratio.

    But if the Bulls draft really well, they do not need need this trade. That is why I like trading Deng for a couple of picks or a lottery pick. If they draft two more players who develop like Butler, they should win the ECF, even without Deng and Boozer. Considering the high value picks they have made in the last few years, that seems very doable. In fact, the Charlotte pick even ups the odds in their favor.

    5) I also agree that the Bulls tend to over value their own players. Thus I agree that everyone except Rose, Noah, and Butler are trade bait. For that matter, I would trade those three as well for the right deal.

  • And exactly who would you trade Rose Noah and Butler for the right deals??? You could get something for Butler but as far as Rose and Noah separately...good luck with those trades. The NBA iz watered down man with a lot of not so good players so trying to trade Rose or Noah the Bulls would need all stars in return. And you sound like you're still bitter about Rose not playing this year with your comment that youwould trade him as well. All i can say about that is let it go cause its over and done with. He did what was best for his career and himself which i have always supported. It's time to look to next year and beyond cause that's why Rose sat out this year.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    1) Reese1, I was only writing in principle about trading anyone. The goal is winning it all, which I know you agree with. Clearly, they need to get better to achieve that. The issue is, how do the Bulls reach that goal?

    Neither of us has NBA teams beating down our door to hire us for our analytical skills, so we are just playing around here. That's OK, it's a diversion, entertainment. We know we are not curing cancer or bringing peace to the world. We are just having a little fun!

    That said, you think trading for Aldridge will significantly improve the Bulls. I do not. You do not think Mirotic will help much. I think he will. You do not like a trade for Love. I do. No one can prove who is right. We are just fooling around.

    2) As for Rose, I totally agree it was his call to return or not this past season. He had multiple injuries in 2011-2012, yet the coaches overworked him, which may or may not have influenced the ACL tear. Opinions differ, and it is not provable anyway. So he had an ethical basis to sit out the season. I have no bitterness about that. We are not talking about world peace here.

    It is also possible that Rose intended to come back but the FO talked him out of it. Why? A) Insurance picked up his salary for the year. B) The Bulls weren't going to win it all anyway. C) They did not believe the docs -- they believed the ACL repair, specifically the attachment, was not at full strength and would continue to get stronger for another 6 months.

    If that was the case, then maybe the FO had Rose take the heat for the decision rather than the FO. I do not know that, but that stuff goes on behind closed doors all the time. I think most of us did have a problem with all of the misleading propaganda that was fed to the fans regardless of who caused it or why. It seemed very dishonest to many of us.

    3) No blockbuster trades are easy. Every team wants to win such a trade. It is also safer to stand pat than to make a trade that later might burn the FO! Like the Lakers getting Howard. Another NBA crown, right? Not even close.

    I could give you Rose trades that work as to talent, and would improve the Bulls, but as you correctly pointed out, they also have to work as to salary, and they do not. Even if that worked, neither FO would take the risk.

    4) Deng and Gibson and even the Charlotte pick for Love and a couple of 2nd round picks, provided the docs clear him medically, could upgrade both the Bulls and the T'wolves. The Bulls would have enough money then to resign Marco, maybe even Nate. Even tho it could make sense, both FOs would be afraid to pull the trigger -- probably won't happen.

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