Tag:Chris Bosh
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:49 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:23 pm
 

Mamba strikes for revenge as Lakers top Heat

Kobe Bryant took it to Dwyane Wade and the Heat Sunday. (Getty Images)


By Matt Moore


Maybe all he needed was a reason to make it personal. Kobe Bryant has struggled against LeBron James over the past four years as James has risen to become one of, if not the best players in the NBA. Bryant's Lakers lost games to James' Cavaliers and both matches with the Heat last year, and one earlier this season. But after a hard foul from Dwyane Wade in the All-Star game gave him a concussion and broken nose which required him to wear a mask Sunday against the Heat, things changed. Despite Bryant saying that he didn't take offense to the foul, he certainly looked like a man possessed. 

Bryant scored 33 points on 23 shots, a model of efficieny as the Lakers downed the Heat 93-83 to improve to 3-0 since the All-Star Break. He hurt the Heat from every angle with every type of shot. He worked in the flow of the offense, something he's struggled with this season and which has hurt the Lakers' offense repeatedly. Bryant would never admit that Wade's foul on him during the All-Star game had an effect, but it was clear that Bryant was zoned in to win this game. 

It may not have been a revenge game, but it sure looked like it.

In the bigger picture, the Lakers bullied the Heat defensively Sunday, and that was the real difference maker. They shut off their transition opportunities and in the halfcourt bodied, shook, jarred and shoved them around. It was a physical contest and yet the Lakers were the more aggressive team overall. That tough defense only drew 15 free throws on 17 personal fouls versus the Lakers' 29 free throws on 23 personal fouls.

Most impressive may have been Metta World Peace, who has struggled the past two seasons, but had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals, hitting 2-4 from the thraee-point line and a series of dagger turnarounds. Basically, if the world ended Sunday night you couldn't be all that surprised. MWP was everywhere defensively, badgering James and making steals and saves to dirsupt the Heat offense.

The size advantage for Miami was huge, especially with Chris Bosh missing another game due to personal reasons. The Heat had no way to stop or deter Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and the twin towers pounded them on the offensive glass. Let me put it this way. In the fourth quarter, LeBron James was trying to wrap-around passes to Juwan Howard for finishes in traffic. You can imagine how that worked out.

The Lakers are playing the best ball of their season right now, the Heat on the third game of a West Coast road trip without Bosh. But it was a statement game for L.A. all the same, and one they needed.

The worst of the night has to go to Dwyane Wade, who shot 7-17 for 16 points and fouled out with five fouls, including one late useless bump on Kobe Bryant. Wade was frustrated with the physical play by L.A. all afternoon (Wade only shot two free throws), and seemed bothered by the intensity of the game and Bryant in particular. 

Turns out it's never wise to make a snake angry.
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Bosh to miss two games due to personal matter

Posted by Royce Young

The Miami Heat will be without All-Star forward Chris Bosh Thursday against Portland as well as Friday against Utah because of a personal matter.

Without Bosh, the team will likely turn to Udonis Haslem, a very capable backup. Thursday's matchup in Portland will be a challenge as the Blazers have an All-Star up front as well in LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Heat though don't have a lot of interior depth, so without Bosh, the second unit will likely rely on Juwan Howard, Dexter Pittman and Eddy Curry even. Then again, the Heat can obviously survive as they have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Which is an interesting wrinkle, because LeBron could see some of that time at the 4 in place of Bosh.

On the season Bosh is averaging 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:56 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 6:10 pm
 

Barkley on Rome: LeBron defers too much

Charles Barkley says LeBron defers to Dwyane Wade too much. (Getty Images)


By Matt Moore
 

Charles Barkley had more to say on Jim Rome than just wishing someone could shoot 20 percent of NBA fans. 

Rome asked Barkley about his feelings on LeBron James, and well, you know Chuck. 

 

This is the eternal debate with James. And the biggest problem, honestly, is Michael Jordan. 

You see, Jordan set a new bar for alpha dogs. It wasn't enough to make the game winning play. To be the best, you have to rise up and knock down a mid-range jumper, preferably fading away, to win the game. That's the bar. Passing may be the best play, it may be the right play, it may be considered the best thing to do the other 47 minutes of a game, but when things get close down the stretch, that jumper's what you're expected to do. Problem is, James isn't very good at it. He's gotten better at it, but he's not automatic. This, maybe more than anything else, defines him. 

Consider this. Inside three minutes to go in a game separated by five points or less, James has seven of the Heat's ten total assists in that range this season. By comparison, James has 11 field goal attempts, the same as Wade and just one more than Bosh, in that same situation. He has made just three of them. (Wade is 5 of 11, Bosh 7 of 10.)

So James is handling the ball a lot. He's just not hitting. And he's passing the most as well, at least on made buckets. The assertion remains that James is the best player on the team, and he keeps deferring to lesser players. But it's entirely possible that James simply isn't the best player in these situations. At least not right now, with this team, with where his game is at now. 

(For comparison's sake, Kobe Bryant is 9-35 this season in that same situation. He also has seven assists in that situation, though the Lakers have been in far more tight games than the Heat.)

("ROME with Jim Rome" debuts on CBS Sports Network April 3rd.  You can follow him on Twitter @JimRome.)
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:39 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:48 am
 

Report Card: Sanity reigns


The Heat&nbsp''s defense swarmed the Knicks on Thursday in a win. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

Notable Games: 
Miami 102 New York 88
Oklahoma City 100 Lakers 85

Heat's Defense Miami trapped on the pick and roll, attacked Jeremy Lin at halfcourt on his dribble, contested at the rim with Joel Athony, and made Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire disappear. Individually they are impressive. Collectively they are dominant.
LeBron James His 7-16 shooting percentage is the only thing keeping him from an A. Because James sets the bar just that high. 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks. That's pretty absurd. His defensive work and ability to run the break and control the pace of the game was complete. Another MVP performance.
Joel Anthony How do you only get six boards as a starting center, score no points and get an A? Five blocks, and constantly limit every single baseline and wing penetration. Anthony was outmatched in terms of talent, as he usually is, and played brilliantly, as he has for most of this season.
Chris Bosh The only member of the Big 3 for Miami with a good shooting night, Bosh just kept plugging filling in baseline jumpers and at one point, shook Tyson Chandler something fierce with a step back jumper. Bosh continues a great season he gets no credit for.
Jeremy Lin Yes, he was tired. Yes, it was one of the best defenses in the league. And yes, everyone gets an off nigh. But Lin must cut down on his turnovers. This is not a usage issue. Four turnovers, five turnovers, sure. Lin had six in the first half, eight total, and that just kills everything New York does well with him. Lin did his best, but the bar has been raised for Lin and he couldn't reach it against the best competition he's had.
Amar'e Stoudemire If anyone sees Amar'e Stoudemire, please let us know. He hasn't been seen since the first half against Miami.
Carmelo Anthony Anthony looked good in the first half, moving the ball and moving without it. Then in the second half he faded, going more and more to isolation, and draining the Knicks offense. He had very little choice as the Knicks offense was drowning itself in a pool of its own vomit. But there's still not a measure of total comfort for Melo.
Miami's point guards Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers took it right to Lin and converted turnovers into points, managed the offense, and hit shots. Cole's aggressiveness continues to impress.
Kobe Bryant Twenty four points on twenty four shots. Kobe System. You're welcome.
James Harden It's not every night you get to beat up Kobe Bryant's shooting percentage, talk trash to him, steal from him and then outrun him in transition, and get the win. Harden was brilliant defensively, which isn't commonplace, Thursday night. Staring down Bryant and not backing down gets bonus points.
Kevin Durant 33 points on 22 shots, 6 assist, 3 steals and just 2 turnovers. The model of efficiency and tough shot after tough shot. You know, same ol' same ol' for KD.
Kendrick Perkins Perkins has not been great at times the past two seasons, but Andrew Bynum brings out the best in him. Perkins made some big plays and played the kind of tough defense he's known for. His follow dunk in the fourth quarter Thursday was a statement late that the game was over.
Pau Gasoly Another game, another disappearing act for the most controversial Laker of this era.
Russell Westbrook Westbrook didn't shoot well. He wasn't creating tons of assists, but he made a lot of plays like the one in the fourth quarter where he beat two Lakers to the ball, corralled it with one hand, kicked the break off blowing past two more Lakers, then dished a perfect laser pass to a cutting Harden for the dunk. Westbrook remains, as always, underrated.


E FOR EFFORT
DeJuan Blair (28 points, 12 rebounds, 0 turnovers)
Andre Miller (20 points on 10 shots, 7 assists, 2 turnovers)
Jannero Pargo (15 points in less than 20 minutes)
Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:49 pm
 

Linsanity meets LeBrontology in Heat win

LeBron James lead the Heat to a win over Jeremy Lin and the Knicks. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

Magic and momentum can take you far in this world. Things happen in sports that defy logic and reason. They happen all the time in the NBA. The 8th seed Warriors with no discernible defense knocking off one of the best regular season teams of the decade in Dallas. The Nuggets toppling the Sonics in the 90's. Sundiata Gaines hitting a game winner. In football, Tim Tebow knocked off the Steelers. It only took injuries to half of Pittsburgh's team to pull it off. Sometimes the story is greater than the facts.

But eventually, there's science. Cold, hard, science.

On Thursday night, Linsanity got a cold dose of LeBrontology, as Miami downed New York 102-88.

It wasn't primarily James doing the damage, it was the Heat's suffocating team defense. It was Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier attacking Jeremy Lin's dribble, it was Wade, Chris Bosh, Chalmers, and Battier on offense. But James was the tip of the spear at both ends, and putting on another MVP performance in a big game setting with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals,, and 2 blocks. Want proof this game mattered to James? 40 minutes, before the All-Star break. He contained Lin, forced him into traps, and the Heat took away Lin's right, then took away his dribble, and always, always, always started the break with one of their athletic wings streaking in for the finish.

It was a blitzkrieg, it was a bum rush, it was a stampede by Miami, and the Knicks were left trampled underfoot.

By the end of the game any hope of Lin turning on one of the furious comebacks he's created this year fell by the wayside, instead the Knicks reverted to B.L. (Before Lin) thinking, with Carmelo Anthony isolating for contested jumpers, the rhythm destroyed for New York. It was an impressive win, but far from a blowout.

The Knicks had things going for them, and in reality, this game represents well where the two teams are. The Knicks are dangerous, now. When Anthony is slashing to the basket, when Amar'e Stoudemire is taking advantage of opportunities, when Tyson Chandler is a force at the rim, and on any other night when Lin is able to create scoring opportunities, the Knicks have what it takes to make a playoff run and run to the second round. That they were over-matched is not indicative of the degree of this team's flaws, less than a week in with this complete roster.

The fact that Miami slammed the door so emphatically in the second half is.

The Big 3 scored 67 points, the bench gave them 27. But it was their game plan that shows what this team can do when it's in gear. The formula is simple. Turn the opponent over, run, run, run it down their throat. Rinse, lather, repeat. There will come a time when the Heat offense again looks pathetic, stagnant, pedestrian. But the Knicks caught them at a time when they are at their very best. This Heat team smothers your possession, dissects your ball movement, then punishes you with their speed and athleticism. I call it the Flying Death Machine for a reason. That New York hung in says a lot about their talent level.

Lin was sloppy, running into defenders, desperate to try and create space, contained on the drive and deterred from his sweet spots. The Heat can talk all they want about not adjusting their game to their opponent, but this was a concerted effort to cut the Knicks' mythological head clean off. With Lin buried, the Knicks offense was fine, for a while, but eventually it caught up. That may be the most impressive piece of the Heat's performance. Amar'e Stoudemire hurt the Heat in the first half. They made him vanish in the second half. The perimeter shooting killed them throughout the game, but eventually the Heat started anticipating the passes. They gave up a lot of size inside, but the bigger the game became, the better Joel Anthony (5 blocks) played.

And there was James, at it all, running and swiping and cutting and shooting. The Knicks were within ten under two-minutes. Lin turnover. Outlet pass. LeBron James emphatic dunk. The end.

Lin will adjust and get better, the Knicks will be fine. But this game showed itself to be another example of what we already knew.

The Miami Heat play above the rim, and a step above everyone else in the NBA right now. They are faster, stronger, better right now. 

It's science.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:15 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:28 pm
 

Knicks vs. Heat headlines: LeBron vs. Jeremy Lin


By Matt Moore
 

Okay, I'm going to use one pun here for this Knicks-Heat game Thursday night, and then we're going to go through the rest of it without a single one, not even Linsanity. But I have to get this one out there, OK?

This is Nuclear Lin-ter.

The unbelievable story of Jeremy Lin rolls into Miami at 7 p.m. EST Thursday night, and it's not out of this world to say that this is the biggest matchup of the season. The Knicks, 7-2 in the Jeremy Lin era (3-2 in their last five) take on the Heat on a seven-game winning streak, all by double-digits. The unheard-of phenomenon against the superstar monolith. It's David vs. Goliath, only Davis is armed to the teeth this time, with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and J.R. Smith. It is the story that's captivated the minds and hearts of the sports world vs. one of the truly most hated, yet incredibly awesome in terms of ability teams in the history of sports.

This is going to be fun.

With that, here are your Knicks vs. Heat Storylines.

A Question of Fit

The superstar teams have not come together seamlessly. There have been hiccups, problems, issues, complications, struggles and downright disasters. Last year's Heat team was a mess of athletic dynamos running into each other at times, and simply standing around ball-watching others. Things are different this season. The Heat have become a much more fluid offense, but there are still times when the hesitation presents itself and the defense can stifle the Heat into looking like four-year-olds playing four-square. Meanwhile, the Knicks were disastrous without Lin. Carmelo Anthony, point forward, was an era that lasted approximately five games before Mike D'Antoni realized that wouldn't work. Is Lin the engine that can make this go? In two games with Anthony back, the Knicks are 1-1. Anthony hasn't put up big numbers, neither has Lin. But the offense has been efficient and balanced. This game is a chance for each side to present its best offering as to how they've come to fit together. The Heat can demonstrate the pieces have assembled into the Flying Death Machine they've been this season. The Knicks can show they have the engine to make the parts work with a legit point guard.

Because if neither team fits well together last night, the other might run away with the game.

Guarding Jeremy Lin

LeBron James has already said he will guard Lin for portions of the evening, and that's no surprise. What will be worth watching is how Lin adjusts. James is a monster perimeter defender because, well, he's the size of a truck and has the lateral quickness to stay with absolutely anyone. Lin, on the other hand, does a terrific job at two things, forcing the split of the double-team (though that's where most of his turnovers come from), and managing that set in terms of when to pass and when to finish. He can force the pass sometimes, but in general he has a good sense of the set.

He's running up against a big problem in James, though. According to Synergy Sports, James forces a turnover on the pick-and-roll ball handler 23.1 percent of the time, which is extremely high. Think of how shooting 45 percent in any set is pretty decent, now imagine out of ten possessions, the player turns it over twice, and hits just three of the remaining shots (James holds those shooters to 40 percent shooting). With Lin's turnovers coming mostly out of the pick-and-roll as ball handler (26 percent of the time in a small sample size), this could be rough. Great defenses like Dallas' have struggled with containing Lin when he splits that double-team, but again, this is Miami. This is really the crux of the battle right here. The Miami shooters can contain the perimeter threats with their rotations, but the biggest offensive set threat happens if Lin gets loose out of that double. That will force the Heat to adjust which opens up things for Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. No pressure, J.

Rivalry Renewed

This isn't going to get the press of the other stars, but does anyone else realize this is Tyson Chandler facing the same Heat team he annihilated in the Finals? Chandler's ability to convert offensive rebounds is going to be key in this game. Likewise, the Heat need to get him in foul trouble early. Chandler can be neutralized which puts capable but not-standout Jared Jeffries in to battle Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem, matchups the Heat would much prefer. Chandler can crush teams if he gets going in the pick and roll or on tap backs. This is the biggest game of Chandler's season to date with the Knicks. He put the Mavericks into the list of champions over this team last year. How he dominates the glass will go a long way into deciding this game.

One-on-One-on-One-on-One

Oddly enough, the same sets which give Miami and New York their worst performances may be necessary tonight. I've railed on the Heat for going Isolation too much as I do with nearly every NBA team, and the rest of the world has done the same to the Knicks, especially Carmelo Anthony. But the Heat's pick-and-roll defense is so good, their rotations so well-executed, that the best answer for them may simply be to let Anthony and Stoudemire do work one-on-one. Getting the Heat away from playing on a string takes away their biggest defensive strength outside of sheer athleticism. And for the Heat, the Knicks' defense is better this year despite having mostly the same players as a terrible one last season. The reason is systemic, not individual, and the best way to answer that is to isolate those poor defenders, Anthony and Stoudemire (and Fields) and try and blow past them.

In short, going hero ball is actually not a bad plan tonight.

The Indescribable

This is one of those moments. You know, the ones that form the tapestry of a season. The Heat are bagged on about not closing out games against elite competition, and Jeremy Lin has been as clutch as it comes in the fourth quarter. Carmelo Anthony has been accused of not being able to fit in an offense. The Heat crowd is typically terrible. Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh both have their demons. Both teams will blow off this game. It's one game in a regular season going by in a blur. But this game means something. The Lin phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Can it beat the best combination of talent in the NBA? Can the Heat finally step up and answer their critics resoundingly in a key moment?

This one's going to be fun.
Posted on: January 29, 2012 6:48 pm
 

Five big takeaways from Bulls-Heat

Posted by Royce Young

Round one went to the Heat, but not much separates Miami and Chicago. (Getty Images)

For the first time since Game 5 of the Eastern Confernce Finals where the Heat put together a massive comeback -- or the Bulls choked away a big lead, depending on perspective -- the Bulls and Heat matched up Sunday in Miami. It went as expected, down to the wire, with a couple key possessions decided it as Miami slid by, 97-93.

It was a game that will be played three more times during the regular season and likely one we'll see four, five, six or maybe seven more times in the postseason. It's one of what will be many more, but here are five big things to take away from the first matchup.

1. The final minute was pretty much perfect. Why? Because it was a total mess. Or as Kevin Garnett might say, a bar fight. The Bulls clawed back to finally have a shot at their first lead of the game as Derrick Rose stepped to the line with Chicago down 94-93 with 22 seconds left. Of note: Rose was 12-12 from the line to that point and had made all 28 free throws he'd attempted in the fourth quarter this season. He missed the first short. He missed the second long. The Heat gained possession and Joakim Noah was forced to foul LeBron James.

So it was LeBron's turn to finish the game at the line. He missed the first short. He missed the second long.

And that's when things started to get weird.

Off the second miss, there was an inadvertant whistle as Dwyane Wade saved the ball and Miami appeared to regain possession. The officials decided to jump it up at mid-court, but Monty McCutchen's toss was incredibly lopsided as LeBron easily won it against Taj Gibson. The Bulls fouled, Mario Chalmers stepped to the line with 13 seconds left. He made the first, missed the second and the ball somehow squirted through Carlos Boozer's arms as he called timeout. Rose grabbed it, got the timeout called and the Bulls, after all of that, had the ball with nine seconds left and a chance to tie it or win.

Rose got free and had a decent look for 2 as Richard Hamilton stood wide open in the corner. Rose came up short, the Heat grabbed the ball and finished off the Bulls in a completely fitting finish to a wild, entertaining game between the East's top two teams.

2. LeBron v. Rose. Both were absolutely spectacular. Rose finished with 34, LeBron 35. It was a show of two of the most electric players with the ball in their hands. Everything you'd want from a Heat-Bulls game.

The Heat didn't use LeBron on Rose much in the game like they did in the Eastern Finals, but LeBron did switch to Rose one time -- the Bulls final possession. Rose was terrific despite missing the free throws and 17 of his 28 shots, but he did it abusing Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. With the Bulls in a position to win or tie, LeBron switched to Rose.

Chicago ran a quick little set that got the ball to Rose isolated at the top of the key on LeBron. Rose got an on-ball screen, slipped past LeBron and jumpstopped at an elbow. Two Heat defenders stepped up, Udonis Haslem flopped to try and draw a charge and Rose was left with an open 15-footer. Which of course he missed.

But for the first 47:51 of the game, the Heat resisted having LeBron guard Rose, like he did so much of in the Eastern Finals. I couldn't help but wonder if it was an intentional switch to try and keep LeBron off of Rose and let the Heat defend the reiging MVP collectively, but it's almost like Erik Spoelstra was saving it as his secret weapon, just in case. As the two teams go forward against each other, it's definitely something to watch for.

3. Rose still has to do too much. There's a key difference between the Bulls and Heat: Rose defers to Richard Hamilton, Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer. LeBron defers to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. A crucial distinction.

The Bulls are mostly in a position where either they have to kill the offensive glass and create multiple shot possessions or play incredible defense and win an ugly 80-78 game. Or hope that Rose plays an entirely flawless game.

The good news for Chicago is that all three of those things are entirely possible. The Bulls did a great job creating second opportunities, played solid defense and Rose was really good. But still, they didn't get enough of all three. I'm not so sure the Heat are all that much better than the Bulls, but I do think Chicago's margin for error is much smaller.

4. Luol Deng matters, a lot. Forgotten in all of this is Chicago's second best player didn't play. Luol Deng, a guy that gives the Bulls almost 16 points and 7.5 rebounds a game was out with a wrist and hand injury. Not only did the Bulls miss the extra offensive punch Deng gives, but they missed most his defensive ability.

Deng would've been the primary defender on LeBron, but instead Chicago was forced to rotate guys like Ronnie Brewer, Rip Hamilton and big guys like Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah on him. Not ideal for the Bulls and it's a big reason LeBron exploded for 35 points. You can't take something away from this game without remembering that the Bulls were minus Deng. He means way too much to them, especially for the reason he's their guy to stick on No. 6.

5. A seven-game series between these two would be terrific. I'm not entirely sure who the favorite would be, but if this game is any indication, it will likely come down to either Derrick Rose carrying his Bulls, or a combination of LeBron and Wade doing the same for Miami. It's a wonderful contrast between a top heavy squad with three amazing players against a deep roster headed by one incredible player.

Sunday, Wade wasn't great scoring 15 points on 4-16 shooting, but that's the design of the Heat. One guy didn't get it done, so another stepped up. In this case, it was LeBron and Chris Bosh (24 points, 12 rebounds). Bosh is a linchpin in that when Deng is healthy, the Bulls really can defend the Heat well. There likely will be games where Wade and LeBron are struggling and Bosh has to outclass Boozer inside to give Miami easy points.

There's a lot of stuff going on between these two teams. A lot of matchup issues, adjustments and big players making big plays. They're on a crash course to see each other again in the Eastern Finals and as Sunday showed, it'll likely be a beautiful mess.
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:37 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 11:42 pm
 

Miami is now 5-0 without Wade -- what's it mean?

Posted by Royce Young



Let me stop myself before I even start: No, the Heat are not better without Dwyane Wade. Yes, even thinking that is pretty stupid. No, the Heat should not trade him. Yes, that's a whole other level of stupid. 

But you know what? The fact the Heat improved to 5-0 without him with a 98-87 win over the Lakers Thursday and are 5-4 with him this season is kind of hard to ignore. And it's impossible not to wonder what it might mean.

Here's my conclusion: It means LeBron is still the best player in basketball. And it's not really all that close.

What you see from LeBron is a player unchained from any restraints of fitting alongside someone else. A player that can completely play free, dominate the ball, handle every situation himself and control a game. When Wade isn't on the floor with LeBron, everything is focused on No. 6. It's hard to take your eyes off of LeBron because he holds the game in the palm of his hand.

Remember how with the Cavs sometimes LeBron would get hot and pull up for 3s from all over the floor? Sometimes even just a few steps in front of half court? That's how he goes at it in Miami without Wade. With Wade, LeBron had taken nine 3-pointers total, hitting three. Without him, LeBron has attempted 10 (in four games), hitting six.

In the four games LeBron has played this season without Wade (remember, LeBron sat out with Wade in a win over the Hawks), he's averaging 32.2 points, 10.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds a game. With Wade, LeBron's putting up 25.4 points, 5.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds. When LeBron plays without Wade, he becomes the Cleveland version of himself, carrying a lower class of players to a higher place, while he dominates the entire game. Except he has Chris Bosh, who plays about the same with or without Wade. But LeBron never had a guy of Bosh's caliber in Cleveland. His supporting cast in Miami without Wade is better than the one assembled with the Cavs.

Now, again, there's no question at all that the Heat are a better team with Dwyane Wade. If they are to win a championship, it will absolutely hinge on the health and inclusion of No. 3 in everything they do. But I do think that LeBron might be a better individual player without Wade. His mind is set free, his game has the shackles removed and he's allowed to roam and own a game in the way he was created to do. But that's the funny thing: LeBron might not ever have won a championship being the clear, indisputable best player in basketball.

Because in order for him to fully realize everything he's amazing at, he has to have free reign over the entire floor. He has to be able to take ownership of a game. That kind of thing can dazzle and destroy teams in the regular season, but was proven to fail in the postseason. He may have been able to win a title on his own, but it would've taken near flawless basketball from him to do it.

Instead with Wade at his side, LeBron can fall asleep in a fourth quarter, can have an off night, can fail miserably at different times and the Heat still be an amazing team. I mean, against Dallas, the Heat were not far off from winning a title despite LeBron not playing well and the fact it was their first season together in a chemistry experiment. That was the whole idea of forming that group in South Beach. LeBron was sick of trying to be perfect. The glory might've been all his had he been able to accomplish the goal and climb to the mountain top. But it would not have been easy. So he teamed with Wade and Bosh and set himself up for a better shot at it.

It really speaks to LeBron's inherent unselfishness as a player and person. Rather than soak it all in and have people drool over his god-like ability on the basketball court, he'd rather fit in alongside his buddies and win. The Heat are collectively an awesome team when fully operational. When it's LeBron and the Other Guys, they're still a really good squad that can demolish teams like the Spurs and Lakers, but not one entirely equipped to finish the objective and win a championship.

I do want to thank Wade though for taking it easy with his foot and ankle injuries because it's given us the treat of seeing just how freaking good LeBron James is when he gets to unleash his full arsenal of ability. Because every now and then, we need to be reminded of just how damn good he really is.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com