All on LeBron? Needing 2 wins or else, Heat return to familiar ground for Game 6 of Finals

  • Article by: TIM REYNOLDS , AP Basketball Writer
  • Updated: June 18, 2013 - 6:41 AM
hide

LeBron James and Chris Bosh need to step up in Game 6 against Tim Duncan and the Spurs, or else their season will end.

MIAMI — LeBron James has been here before, with dire results.

It was two years ago, the end of the first season of "Big Three" basketball in Miami. The situation: Heat down 3-2, hosting Game 6 of the NBA Finals, only two home wins separating them from what would have been James' first title.

Then, thud.

James had six turnovers in Game 6, the Heat were outscored by 24 with him on the floor, and the Dallas Mavericks became NBA champions. And now, here comes a chance to face the same situation. Down 3-2 again, and back at home for Game 6 of the finals against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, Miami needs two wins in three days or else it will be watching someone else end this season with a party on its own floor.

"We're going to see if we're a better team than we were our first year together," James said.

We're also about to see is how much James has grown since that 2011 season.

He has more at stake than any other Heat player in this series, especially now that the Spurs are one game away from grabbing the championship. If the Heat lose, it'll be widely perceived as James' failure. If the Heat win, his status as the game's best player not only becomes even more cemented, but he might even win over a few more doubters.

"Our next challenge, biggest challenge, will be Tuesday night," James said. "We have an opportunity on our home floor with our home fans to keep the series going, and we look forward to it."

Getting swept in the finals by San Antonio in 2007, that one was written off as James just not having enough talent around him. Losing to Dallas in 2011, a year after he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh came together in such ballyhooed fashion in Miami, was an absolute nightmare for James. Winning it all by topping Oklahoma City last season, that was his long-awaited ascension.

And what will be written about this season, it'll all be decided over the next few days.

"I have to come up big, for sure in Game 6," James said. "But I believe we all have to play at a high level in order to keep the series going. So me being one of the leaders of this team, I do put a lot of pressure on myself to force a Game 7, and I look forward to the challenge."

When the Heat have been in trouble the last two postseasons, it's pretty much has meant James to the rescue.

In matchups where the Heat have been down in a series or faced elimination over the past two seasons, the game's best player has played like the game's best player. Overall, in those eight games — Game 4 against Indiana last season, Games 6 and 7 against Boston last season, Game 2 against the Thunder last season, Game 2 against Chicago this year, Game 7 against the Pacers this year and Games 2 and 4 against the Spurs — James' numbers simply pop.

He's averaged 31.1 points on 53 percent shooting, added 10.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists, and the Heat are a whopping plus-128 with him on the floor in those contests.

"LJ has proven himself enough in this league," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, "and on the biggest stage."

The Heat aren't down in this series with the Spurs because of James, who was a deserved scapegoat in 2011 against the Mavericks. He has more points than anyone else in this year's NBA Finals, the second-most rebounds (two behind Tim Duncan) and the most assists (one ahead of Tony Parker).

They're down in the series for a litany of other reasons, not necessarily related to James.

The Spurs might be the best top-to-bottom team that the Heat have faced in these three seasons of playoff runs. They have the mastermind coach in Gregg Popovich, the veteran core of Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili, and the supporting cast like Danny Green (with a Finals-record 25 3-pointers and counting) and Gary Neal (12 3-pointers in the series, second-most behind Green).

"Well, we challenge ourselves to see if we're a better team than we was," Wade said. "Same position no matter how we got to it. We're in the same position going back home with Game 6 on our home floor. So we're going to see if we're a better ballclub and if we're better prepared for this moment. Everything happens for a reason. And this is not a bad reason at all to go home for Game 6 on your home floor."

There was no outward sign of Heat dejection before leaving San Antonio on Sunday night.

In a corner of the arena where players milled about with their families before departing toward the charter flight that carried the team home to Miami early Monday, Wade had a quiet moment with girlfriend Gabrielle Union, Bosh made "roar" sounds toward some kids and James stopped to give high-fives to about a half-dozen boys who barely came up to his waist, if that. He was smiling the whole time, too.

If there was a "what, me worry" vibe, James was masking it well.

"We've been through so many battles," Spoelstra said. "And we've been through everything. The trust level is there now. We've been through enough losses, we've been through enough pain, been through success that we're able to manage each other much better than initially the first few weeks together."

Ray Allen said he would gladly have taken the deal at the start of the year, that being have two games at home to win the NBA title. Same goes for Mario Chalmers, who insisted he couldn't wait to see what the atmosphere in Miami will be like Tuesday night.

"All I know is, the schedule says we've got another game," Bosh said.

That was his way of saying that no, absolutely all is not lost for Miami. And in the 2-3-2 format, on paper, it was supposed to be exactly this way.

"That's the position we're in," James said. "The most important game is Game 6. We can't worry about a Game 7. We have to worry about Game 6 and going back home, being confident about our game, being confident about getting a win, which we are. So it is what it is. We have a Game 6 on our home floor."

He left off the last word of that sentence: Again.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close