NBA: Heat’s ugly win just fine with JamesBy Greg Heakes
MIAMI – The Miami Heat lineup might be dominated by three of the NBA’s biggest stars, but not all of their victories in the NBA Finals are going to be pretty to watch, says LeBron James.
“I don’t give a damn how we get four (wins). We can win 32-31,” James said on Monday. “We can win any type of game. We can win a gritty game, a high-paced game, but we take every game as its own.”
The Heat took Sunday’s game 91-85 over Oklahoma City to grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
James led Miami with 29 points and 14 rebounds in a game dominated by defense, turnovers and mistakes. Dwayne Wade added 25 points and Chris Bosh had 10 for the Heat.
“We don’t go into a game saying this is what type of a game it’s going to be,” James said. “We go into a game saying this is how we’re going to play.”
“We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to try to control the rebounding, have low turnovers and we’re going to try to get some good shots up and get to the free-throw line.”
“And at the end of the day then we’ll give ourselves a good chance to win.”
Miami is only two wins shy of their first NBA title in six years, and the first since bringing together their marquee trio last season, and the Heat will have the luxury of hosting the next two games.
History is on their side because 29 of the 34 NBA Finals that were tied after the first two games have been won by the club that won game three as the Heat did.
Three-time league Most Valuable Player James is still chasing his first NBA title, but don’t think he hasn’t done his homework on how other teams got there.
“Listen, I know the history of the game,” James said. “You’ve got to have superstars and stars to win a championship.
“You’ve got to have a great coaching staff and a great organization. But as many as (Michael) Jordan won, he had a great supporting cast around him. As many as (Larry) Bird won, he had a supporting cast. As many as Magic (Johnson) won, he had a supporting cast, same with (Tim) Duncan.
“I understand that you can’t do it by yourself. You’ve got to have guys around you, great players around you, then you’ve got to have role players.”
Unlike his first year in the league, James’ can play any style. At times he makes the game looks easy, like he’s floating across the floor. At other times he is at his menacing best – elbows flying, head jerking from side-to-side as he muscles in another lay-up through heavy traffic in the paint.
James was at his grinding best on Sunday, powering through the Thunder defense for off balance lay-ups, tap-ins and dunks.
On one drive to the basket he resembled an American football running back, dropping his shoulder and plowing into the closest opponent, just enough to throw the defender off guard but not enough to be whistled for a foul.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday that James isn’t one of those naturally-gifted athletes who thinks he can get by on great athletic skills alone. He has tried to improve his game every year he has been in the league.
“The biggest evolution of great players is they always stay in constant state of being uncomfortable,” said Spoelstra, the first Filipino-American coach in the NBA.
“They don’t stay satisfied. And LeBron every summer has added something to his game. I’ve seen it when I’ve followed him from afar and now that I’ve gotten to know him he’s added two, three, four different elements to his game.
“He continues to try to improve and stay uncomfortable. That’s a sign of greatness.”
James said he has been forced to adapt on the fly in these playoffs because of injuries to key players like Bosh, who missed nine playoff games with an abdominal injury.
“I had to change my mindset,” James said. “When he got hurt I understood I had to change my approach both offensively and defensively.
“I had to rebound more, I had to attack more, get into the paint more to make up the difference until he got back. I just had to change and it’s kind of stayed that way since he got back.”