No matter what decision LeBron James made after “the decision” he could not win. Every move, every choice following his entrance to Miami was going to be scrutinized and criticized.
That’s not going to stop if the Miami Heat win the NBA title with a Game 5 win Thursday night.
But it might slow down. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra channeled his mentor Pat Riley when talking about LeBron and his reputation Thursday.
“You can’t win unless you win,” he said, adding that he didn’t think it fair that “somebody who has the qualities that he has would be critiqued as negatively as he is.”
LeBron will play in Game 5, Spoelstra said, adding he was moving better today. LeBron missed the end of Game 4 with cramps in his legs. A couple days of hydration and treatment should have him back to being himself, and the team will have IVs and fluids at the ready. Also, don’t be shocked if Spoelstra tries to get him a little more rest.
Spoelstra joked he was going to get Riley to crank up the air conditioning in AmericanAirlines Arena to help LeBron out.
Miami will have three chances to close out this series, and no team has ever come back from a 3-1, but the Heat have said they do not want to return to Oklahoma City for a Game 6.
The Thunder are frustrated because they’ve been close — all three losses were by single digits — but unable to close out the wins. James Harden will play despite a bruised hand suffered in Game 4. How well he plays will go a long way to determining if there is a Game 6 on Sunday.
There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.
The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.
Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via CSNBayArea.com.
– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”
Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.
If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.
They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.
All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.