Over the last week Miami Heat All-Star LeBron James has been criticized endlessly by fans of the Association as well as by the media; including on these pages. After being presented the 2012 NBA MVP Trophy by Commissioner David Stern last Sunday, James certainly did not look like an MVP as his team fell behind the Indiana Pacers 2-1 in their series after Chris Bosh was injured in game one.
The forward was scoring his points, but he was playing a one-dimensional game not concentrating on assists and rebounds. The former Cleveland Cavaliers star was getting slammed as a player who could put up big numbers during the regular campaign, but failed to be a clutch player during critical points in the Post Season.
The Heat needed to get a win on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to grab back the home-court advantage they had lost when the Pacers took game two of the match-up in Miami. They also would have returned to Miami with their backs pressed up against a wall trailing 3-1 in the series if they could not come up with a victory.
James at least temporarily shut his critics up (including this one) as he had a monster performance, just falling short of a triple-double; as he knocked down 40 points, grabbed 18 boards, dished off 9 assists, had 2 blocks and 2 steals to lead Miami past their hosts 101-93, getting back the home-court advantage and knotting the series up at 2-2.
Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem both came up big in the final 12 minutes of play; however it was James who really set the tone for his club and put the momentum back in his team’s corner. Heading into game four the obituaries were being written for the Southeast Division winners; now it’s a brand new series with the advantages weighing in Miami’s favor.
We shall find out on Tuesday whether this was the wakeup call that the Heat needed; or if it was just one last moment of glory before an early exit from the Post Season. However LeBron James has removed the goat horns that so many of us put on him over the last few days.