NBA Finals: Turning Point, LeBron Returns Tiago Splitter To Sender (w/ VIDEO)
I may or may not have disclosed this before in this space, and if I have, my apologies, but I am rooting for LeBron in these NBA Finals.
LeBron with the LeBlock.
I'm over the animosity of Decision 2010 (Really, why did I get so worked up over Cleveland getting shat upon anyway?), I root for greatness, I root for dominance, I root for a spirited "Michael vs LeBron" talk radio debate in 2018.
I root for LeBron.
Now, it's not easy, what with him sharing the floor with the dirtiest player in the NBA and with the most overrated softie in the NBA. It's a little like the Lannisters in Game of Thrones, where I'm rooting for and like Tyrion the Imp, but simultaneously rooting for him means rooting for his deplorable, incestuous siblings Cersei and Jaime.
(At least it does at around the second episode of Season 2 mark, maybe that changes. That's where I am right now on Game of Thrones, I started on Friday and I'm trying to catch up to all of you! And oh by the way, how about my first Game of Thrones reference!)
So after a Game 1 where LeBron had perhaps the emptiest triple-double of his career (18 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists) in a performance that left everyone asking once again "Is LeBron too unselfish? Is he too passive at the end of close games sometimes?", and after a first half where the Heat held a five point lead despite LeBron's lackluster 2 for 6 performance, it was put up or shut up time.
LeBron was either going to do to the Spurs what he had done to every team in the playoffs since he donned a Miami uniform (except for Dallas in the NBA Finals two years ago), dominate at both ends of the floor, or we were going to spend the next two days analyzing and reanalyzing all of the schemes that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had implemented to make LeBron a mere mortal -- forcing him to shoot jump shots, forcing him (baiting him?) into giving up the basketball, and Kahwi Leonard...dear God, Kahwi Leonard!
Predictably, we saw the former.
I say "predictably" not out of blind LeBron worship, I say "predictably" because coming into Sunday night, since January (as my man R.J. Bell points out) the Heat were 10-0 after losses. Not just 10-0 winning games, but 10-0 against the spread. Not just that, but R.J. Bell would also tell you that in those ten wins they covered the spread by an average of 15 points.
So when the Heat lose, they don't just head back to the drawing board and regroup. They regroup, refocus, come out and steamroll their opponents into (in this case) black and silver grease spots.
And that's exactly what they did.
Not only did the Spurs allow the Heat to regain some momentum and prevent a cataclysmic 2-0 deficit heading on the road for three straight, but they allowed LeBron to rediscover himself. With the game virtually decided, and the Heat up 19 and having systematically dismantled the Spurs on a night where Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were painfully mortal and Manu Ginobili looked like he drank a case of beer before the game (Seriously, what was up with Manu? He could barely stand up.), the following sequence occurred and LeBron announced he was back:
Soul crushing block on Tiago Splitter, screen and roll dish to a wide open Ray Allen for three, steal and chin up super dunk at other end.
Ball game, welcome back, LeBron.