Monday night is just number four. For some reason it feels like LeBron James has been in more Game 7s in his career, but there have been just three. Two came with the Cavaliers, one with the Heat last season.
And if you are going to draw one conclusion from those three games and extrapolate it ahead to Monday night’s Game 7 between the Heat and Pacers it is this:
LeBron needs help if the Heat are going to win.
In Miami’s three wins against the Pacers they have averaged about 21 assists, in the three losses it is 13. There are two parts to an assist — making the pass and the guy who gets the pass knocking down the shot. In Miami’s wins LeBron dishes, the ball moves and guys like Udonis Haslem hit shots. But in the losses the shots don’t fall from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, so LeBron takes on more himself and the Heat become easier to defend.
That was the case in LeBron’s other three Game 7s.
May 21, 2006: Pistons 79, Cavaliers 61: LeBron had 27 points on 24 shots against a good Pistons’ defense, but the rest of the Cavaliers combined to shoot 22 percent for the game (9-for-41). That was a Cavaliers team that had LeBron and then Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the next two scorers, it really was the LeBron show. Those Pistons advanced to the Eastern Conference finals where they fell to the eventual champions Dwyane Wade and the Miami Het.
May 18, 2008: Celtics 97, Cavaliers 91: Again LeBron had a monster game — 45 points on 29 shots. Again only one other Cavaliers player was in double-digits, Delonte West with 15. The other Cavaliers shot 42 percent overall. The Celtics had balance — Paul Pierce traded shots with LeBron and had 41 points, but big men Kevin Garnett (13) and P.J. Brown (10 off the bench) were the difference.
June 9, 2012: Heat 101, Celtics 88: This win last year completed the Heat’s comeback from 0-2 down in the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron got help in this one — he had 31 points on 21 shots, but Wade had 23 and Shane Battier 12, and Chris Bosh chipped in 19 off the bench. The ball moved and they won — the good Celtics defense couldn’t stop the Heat offense that day.
June 3, 2013: Heat vs. Pacers: LeBron is going to need help. Look for him to try and get teammates involved early, but if things are not going right LeBron will take on more and more of the offensive scoring load. And when that happens the Pacers will be better able to defend Miami, and the spiral will continue.
But if other guys — especially Bosh, knocking down shots that force David West and Roy Hibbert out of the paint to contest his shot — get going, Miami will win. As a team.