Blog Entry

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:37 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 6:04 am

Posted by Matt Moore

So LeBron James "shrunk" in the fourth quarter, supposedly. Let's play a little game of point-counterpoint. 

Point: LeBron James did not take a shot from the 5:26 mark until his attempted game-icing fadeaway with less than eight seconds remaining. He missed.

Counterpoint: LeBron James had four assists in the fourth quarter, including a behind-the-back, only-LeBron-can-make-that-play whip pass to Chris Bosh for a wide-open jumper to win the game.

Point: James himself said that his big contribution was defense in the fourth-quarter, and Synergy Sports reports that he held the players he defended individually to zero points on three shot attempts.

Counterpoint: LeBron did not guard Dirk Nowitzki, who was the Mavs' entire offense the last half of the fourth.

Point: James had 17 points, nine assists, three rebounds, and two steals. Not like he was invisible in this game. 

Counterpoint: A. All anyone cares about is the fourth quarter because they have the memory of goldfish. And B. He had four turnovers, took 14 shots to get that 17 points and missed the game winner!

Point: But it wasn't the game-winner. It was just the game-icer.

Counterpoint: Yes, and he was wide freaking open, but for some reason, elected to dribble and reset, allowing the defender to catch. Look!

Point: So he didn't have a great night. He only scored 17 points, had nine assists, locked down his opponent, made the game winning assist, behind his freaking back, mind you, for the bucket that, yes, won the game. 

Counterpoint: But can we let that go? Isn't he supposed to be the man? Isn't he supposed to dominate in ways never before seen?

Point: No. He's supposed to win. Which is what he did. Isn't that the only thing that matters in the traditional narrative?

Counterpoint: Not for LeBron. Don't ask me why. To answer would take some sort of logic. Tonight's game has somehow turned into a discussion about how a good player ... no, a great player ... no, a superstar player ... OK, probably the best player in this league, had an okay, not-great night while being defended as if the Mavericks were locusts and he were honey. That's it.

Point: Is that fair?

Counterpoint: Do you realize how much attention is on LeBron? Do you recognize how much he created with his ridiculous behavior and then continues to compound it with ridiculous attitude? He flaunts it every single night, which is why so many writers elect to take aim at him, even on a night where they could focus on Chris Bosh stepping up and responding when he was most needed. They could also point to a vintage performance from Dwyane Wade, marvelous defense from good guy and all-around role player Udonis Haslem, Dirk missing a game winner for once, the Mavericks' inability to hold on to the ball and all sorts of other really good angles. Everything is weighed through James, though. That's what he's created for himself.

Point: But even if James has done so, should that be the formula? Is that what we should really be talking about around water coolers and on Twitter tomorrow? How can we honestly criticize certain networks for over-covering LeBron James when we constantly turn the eye to him even when his game doesn't deserve a large share of the attention? James didn't have a bad game, he had a good game. He just didn't have a dominant game. That's not going to happen every night, especially against this defense and especially when he's got other guys who step up for him. Maybe that makes him less of an alpha dog, but it doesn't make him any less of a player and it doesn't make any difference in the 2-1 advantage for the Heat.

Counterpoint: But how do we escape the fact that he's asking to be judged with all these great players and not delivering?

Point: You mean like he delivered in Game 5 against Chcago or Game 4 against Chicag or Game 3 against Cicago or Game 15 against Boston? Like that? We always want to make the narrative about him because he's the hot button issue. He's what sells, and his arrogance is offensive to us. But the reality is that his arrogance is largely manifest in such a way that it's obvious, and that's his only crime. He's not breaking laws, he's not cheating, he's not hogging the ball. The man had nine assists in an NBA Finals game with a ridiculously slow pace! Did that happen by accident?

LeBron James played a C+ game. Good defense with some questionable shot selection after a hot start. He made the plays he needed to and got the win. That's all. There's no shrinkage, there's no failure, there's no great triumph. He was a big part the Heat won but not the biggest part.

And he's still the biggest story.

Since: Jun 8, 2011
Posted on: June 8, 2011 2:21 am

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

The answer is in game 4.  What's the counterpoint this time?

Since: Sep 4, 2007
Posted on: June 6, 2011 11:34 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

I really hope Lebron and DWade are smart enought to tune out all the idiots who dont play with them.  The second they let the press or fans have input on how they are going to win the championship all is lost.  Like my grandpa always said, if you listen to people who dont have what you want then you are doomed to inherit what they have.  No one outside of their circle should be telling Lebron or Wade how to play.  Its nice to want but until you are there playing for the championship you probably should keep your opinions on how they should play isolated to the blogs.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: June 6, 2011 11:27 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

hey jmu -- stop spamming these threads with your own blog. The fact is LBJ HAS played poorely. And the fact is, Doyle's point was well taken. Now.....he never said he wasnt a great player......or had the potential for being. But really, Wade is the guy makes the Heat work. Imagine Wade lost for the next two games? Who wins? Imagine LBJ gone for the next two games? Who wins?  Well, answer to the first is Dallas. Answer to the second, is not sure.

Since: Jun 6, 2011
Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:56 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

Thank you Matt Moore!

Here is an article which should take about the so called 'shrinking' fourth quarter article by some weird writer:


Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:38 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

Lebron most certainly played well the past few series, but Wade didn't play badly either.  Lebron's numbers were only a little bit better than Wade's throughout the playoffs, except for 3pt shooting which Lebron is much better at.

Defensively Lebron did very well yesterday, he also had 9 Assists.  But Wade has overshadowed Lebron and everyone else in the Finals, and people always remember great players elevating their game in Championship games.  It's not that Lebron has been bad at all, it's just he's held to a higher standard and people were ready to annoint the Heat Lebron's team.  Hard to do that when Wade is playing this level of basketball, and Lebron doesn't even care anyway.  Either does Wade.  They just want championships.  Lebron is on record saying he likes playing defense better than offense anyway.  The Heat should put Lebron on Dirk, and if he shuts Dirk down everyone should be shut up.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: June 6, 2011 1:01 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

I HATE LEBRON...but come on. Have some basketball sense. In the last 2 rounds he was unstoppable based on matchups. So Dallas is taking him away, and has a guy in marion who gives him issues.

Does everyone forget how GOD AWFUL Wade was in the last couple rounds. It's all matchups.

Give Lebron some slack, at least with this. Hate him for everything else!

Since: Nov 12, 2009
Posted on: June 6, 2011 12:38 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

How many Hall of famers were on the Lakers in the 80's? how many on Boston in the 80's? the Pistons in 1990? the Bulls in the 90's? the Lakers in 2000? at least 2 - 4 on each team. LeBron is going to win a ring with 1 other hall of famer a 4 time all star who will not make the hall of fame and 9 guys making minimum wage. Case closed.

Since: Nov 12, 2009
Posted on: June 6, 2011 12:36 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

yeah and get DUNKED ON!

Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: June 6, 2011 12:28 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

I'll direct your attention to the series against Boston and against Chicago. You won't acknowledge that, though, because hating on Lebron is a form of masterbation to some people.

Since: Nov 12, 2009
Posted on: June 6, 2011 12:27 pm

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3

amen brother. He has led the league in 4th quarter scoring like 4 out of 6 years leads the league by far in clutch scoring (last 5 minutes of 5 point or less games) see he has made more go ahead baskets in the last 24 seconds of games in 8 years then Kobe bryant has in15 years but he is a bad clutch performer? Kobe shoots 26% with the game on the line and 8% in the playoffs in that situation but hes probably clutch right? lmao

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