In what was arguably the biggest road game in the career of LeBron James, he did something he had never done before in his playoff career: he played up to his potential all the while allowing his teammates to make him look good.
Far too often in the past he got himself into situations in which he had to make others around him look better in order for him to have a chance to close out games; but Game 4 in Boston was different.
Chris Bosh let the pressure of the moment get to him early, as he missed a few uncontested midrange shots. Consequently, James became ultra-aggressive early in the contest, attacking the paint and getting himself to the free throw line with regularity to keep the Heat in the game.
As the game progressed, Dwyane Wade asserted himself offensively and thus was able to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates as evidenced by his 28 points and four assists.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James’ play attracted so much attention throughout the course of the game that Bosh was able to get several uncontested shots in the second half which lead to him scoring a quiet 20 points.
Given the fact that Wade was playing so well down the stretch, the Heat put the ball in his hands and he delivered repeatedly. But then with the Celtics forming a wall to stifle Wade’s driving lanes, the ball often got swung to the Heat’s star forward where he manufactured some impressive scoring opportunities that he converted.
The Wade-James duo basically played big on a big stage and helped each other out down the stretch as they closed out a fabulous game. But as good as they were, Bosh was just as significant in Game 4, gathering four offensive rebounds to give the Heat second chance opportunities.
Miami’s All-Star star power forward came up with the biggest offensive rebound of the game, when he tipped in a LeBron miss late in overtime that would prove to seal the game for Miami.
For far too long, LeBron James was seen as a one-man show that put up great stats but could never get his teams over the hump.
I liken it to a young 50 Cent that got himself noticed with a few creative solo performances but ultimately took the music industry by storm when he joined forces with Eminem and then brought along Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks to form the rap group G-Unit that had essentially all of their songs playing in the club, thus leading to a huge amount of album sales.
By the end of Game 4, LeBron James managed 35 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals. And yet, his biggest accomplishment might have been his ability to seamlessly play in conjunction with Wade as they led Miami to a huge win in Boston.
The Cleveland Cavaliers might have had a better regular season record last year than the Miami Heat this year, but the Heat are farther along in the playoffs this year than where the Cavs were last year.
Regardless of how this series with the Celtics concludes, perhaps it’s time we accept that there has been some growth in James’ game and attitude.
And that just about sounds scary for the rest of the league…