LeBron and Wade Fight to the Finish
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade battled until the final seconds on Monday, but only the NBA die-hards got to see it. The game was broadcast on NBATV -- not exactly a channel that's found on every cable system, let alone in every household. So, on to the highlights:
Wade wanted this one from the very beginning. He started out hot, hitting for 13 points in the first quarter, while James was held without a field goal, scoring just two points on separate trips to the free throw line. But we know LeBron, and we knew he wouldn't allow Wade to continue to get the best of him like this.
While Wade continued his scoring barrage with 17 more points in the second quarter to finish with 30 by halftime, LeBron took over the offensive duties for his club, dropping 20 in the period. The two traded three-pointers to end the half, with Miami clinging to a four-point advantage, after leading by as many as 14 late in the first.
The stars were quiet for much of the rest of the game, but over the final few possessions, they were heavily involved, just as you'd expect.
Wade missed two free throws with his team up one and 41 seconds remaining in the game. As hot as he was in the first half, Wade could only manage 2 points in the second, and for the game, Wade missed seven foul shots in total, which isn't something you can do when you're trying to take down the team with the best record in the league.
Wade briefly made up for his missed freebies by guarding LeBron on the following possession and getting a stop. But then he gave the game away on his team's final possession, by trying a behind-the-back pass that James was able to pick off and take the other way, before getting fouled on his fast break attempt.
James would make the free throws that Wade had missed a few possessions before, and when Wade's jumper at the buzzer missed off the back iron, that was the game.
Criticizing Wade for the behind-the-back pass is ridiculous, because 98 times out of 100, he completes it without issue. The way LeBron was defending him, it was the only way to attempt to get Udonis Haslem the ball there, and the wide open look that Haslem would have had with the shot clock winding down made it the correct play.
If you want to criticize, you could maybe discuss the Heat's final possession.
Personally, I don't like isolation plays at the top of the circle when the game's on the line, but I seem to be in the minority, because every team in the league thinks it's better to do this than to run an actual play. And with Wade having gone cold in the second half, maybe in those final seconds he should have attempted to drive and kick it to someone else. But you know what? You have Dwyane Wade on your team specifically for those kinds of moments, and even if he was 0-for-50 on the night, you probably want him taking that last shot.
Either way, it was a highly competitive game that featured two of the game's biggest stars going head-to-head when things mattered most. It would have been nice if more people had gotten to see it.