What a great night of NBA action last night!
Though I have to admit I was a little Basketballed out after Denver/Utah.
I am an amused Lebron watcher. I think he's by far the most consistently amazing performer in sports in terms of his athleticism and doing things we just don't see that often( Like in Game 1 when he grabbed an alley oop at the top of the white square and finished it with a hammer. Didn't count cause of an offensive foul. Most amazing play of the playoffs thus far.) But I also get frustrated with him. His defense used to frustrate me, then his shot selection, then his lack of a post game. But despite all of that nit picking that gives me something to write about, there is no denying that Lebron finally became the player we wanted him to be this year.
I also disagree with Bill Simmons, about Lebron being spotty in the clutch. If you remember 3 years ago Lebron won 2 out of 4 playoff games against the Wizards with game winning lay-ups. I still remember this, because it's the only time I've seen game winning lay-ups in the playoffs. Lebron also averages an amazing 66.1 Pts per 48 minutes of "Clutch time" up or down 3 with 5 mins to go. Again the only thing questionable about Lebron in the clutch is the occasional pull up 3 which is more a product of his most obvious personality trait: Complete confidence. Even in skills that aren't necessarily his best.
All season long I'd talked to friends about the Lebron 3rd quarter choke-out. The first time I remember it standing out was the game against the Pacers a couple of months back. Lebron decided with about 6 minutes to go that the game was over. He added two dunks, two blocks and a three in that span, and the Pacers were done. I watched it again in a late season game against Chicago. It looks like an normal close game until Lebron all of a sudden decides to hit turbo on his controller. It was enough that during Cleveland's late season winning streak, I could feel the choke-out coming. If the game is even late in the 3rd Lebron goes for the jugular with spectacularly athletic crowd killing plays. It's like he's in Spinal Tap and adjusts his volume to 11.
Last night I watched EVERY minute of The Bulls-Cavs Game. I was impressed by Derrick Rose, floored by Joakim Noah( and worried about what Dwight's gonna do against that front line) but still felt like the Cavs were not bringing the right amount of intensity. I even tweeted before the game that Lebron needed to take out the lack of a dominant performance on the Bulls. And for 3 quarters and 3:16 Lebron was not listening.
Then at the 8:44 mark of the 4th Q, it began.
A ridiculous driving lay-up here, an and 1 there, and then three straight back breaking Js as the Bulls struggled to throw every defender they had at him. Seriously watch the tape he hits those jumpers over James Johnson, Noah and Kirk Hinrich. The Bulls tried EVERYTHING but Lebron took the game and made it his. All in all Lebron dropped 15 pts in 8 minutes and then passed off to Jamario Moon for the back breaker. A game that was tied at 73 all ended up 100-112 Cavs.
You could even see it on the faces of the Chicago players, they knew they weren't beating him. Watching Vinnie Del Negro on the bench I was reminded of the famous Paul Westpaul Interview from the 93 finals where when he was asked about how they were going to stop MJ, he replied " We can't stop him, nobody can stop him."That should have been the closed captioning as Del Negro watched Lebron steal a game where the Bulls had played WAY over their heads, if they were going to win a game in this series they knew they'd have to get that one.
Unfortunately Lebron had other plans. And unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, what Lebron wants this year, he seems to get.