LeBron James drove toward the basket, faced the threat of a double team and kicked the ball to Chris Bosh in the right corner.
“When the ball is in my hands, I’m going to make the right play,” LeBron said. “…I got a lot of confidence in my teammates, and they got a lot of confidence in me, and we live with the results no matter what happens.”
Asked about his superstar’s willingness to pass in crunch time, Erik Spoelstra smiled wide before the question was even completed.
“It’s the theater of the absurd when you’re dealing with what plays he makes at the end of a game,” Spoelstra said. “He makes the right basketball play.
“We know the process is right. Make or miss, it opens up for noise from outside.”
That noise got fairly loud after Bosh missed against the Pacers – more questions about LeBron’s killer instinct. I thought we had moved past that discussion, but as long he keeps passing in those situations, his critics come out of the woodwork.
1. LeBron passes in clutch
2. Teammate misses shot
3. LeBron faces criticism
4. Rinse, wash and repeat
The only way to break the cycle is at step No. 2, and his teammates not only want to do their part, they’re ready – because they understand LeBron will pass at any moment.
“Knowing how LeBron is, you always have to be poised and ready to shoot the basketball,” Bosh said. “He’s the most unselfish player I’ve ever played with.”
Opponents know this, too. That’s why the Spurs typically didn’t double team LeBron when he got hot in the second half.
“You can go double him if you want,” Gregg Popovich said. “He’s a pretty good player. I’m going to guess he’s going to find the open man.”
When San Antonio moved to double on that late possession, Kawhi Leonard chasing him into the paint and Tim Duncan staying home to protect the rim, LeBron found Bosh.
Take that play for granted if you wish. It was the right play and probably should be more common late in games.
But Bosh understands how rare that pass – the one LeBron has proven he’ll make every time in that situation – is for players of LeBron’s caliber.
“That’s what makes this team special, because your best player is willing to sacrifice his shot, a good shot for a great shot,” Bosh said. “And you just have to commend him for that.”
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