SAN ANTONIO, Texas: LeBron James is taking much of the heat for Miami’s shocking game-three meltdown which resulted in the most one-sided loss in playoff history for the defending NBA champions.
And the reigning playoff MVP says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“As dark as it was last night, it can’t get no darker than that, especially for me,” said James during Wednesday’s practice. “So I guarantee I’ll be better tomorrow.
“It’s that simple. I’m putting all the pressure on my chest, on my shoulders to come through for our team.”
James never got into a flow and the San Antonio Spurs scorched the Heat 113-77 in game three as he scored just four points in the first half and was missing shots deep into the third quarter that he normally makes.
Miami’s experiment to try to use James as a playmaker whenever he gets double-teamed has been a colossal flop.
And San Antonio has done a brilliant job of guarding James in the first three games of the NBA finals but he is also far from the unstoppable force that led Miami to last year’s NBA title against Oklahoma City.
James didn’t make his third field goal until late in the third quarter of game three when San Antonio had already built a 21-point lead. He was seven-of-21 from the field and had a 2013 playoff low 15 points and no free throws.
“I take full responsibility for our team’s performance last night,” he said. “As a leader, I can’t afford to perform like I did and expect us to win on the road.
“My teammates are doing a great job. I am not doing my part.”
That last statement might be a bit of an exaggeration. James had a team-high 11 rebounds on Tuesday while the usually reliable Chris Bosh had 12 points on four-of-10 shooting from the field. Starting forward Udonis Haslem and starting guard Mario Chalmers both finished failed to score a single point.
James started two-of-12 in game three after missing 10 of his first 12 shots in game two. In game one he missed seven of his first 12 from the field.
Spurs Danny Green said James is hurting himself with his play.
“It is not just us stopping him,” Green said. “He’s kind of stopping himself. We are getting kind of lucky.”
Thursday’s shocker marked the most lopsided playoff defeat in franchise history and Miami’s worst loss since James arrived on the South Beach scene in 2010.
“We got smashed, everything is demoralizing,” James said immediately following Tuesday’s contest. “There’s nothing positive out of this game. Everything was a disaster.”
In game four, James will have to come out much more aggressive in the opening quarter. He has also got to find a way to fight through the double team defence that the Spurs are using to stop him from getting to the basket.
“Something has to give tomorrow night,” James said Wednesday. “They have a championship pedigree. They have four (titles). We have two. So something has to give.
“We’ve been able to bounce back throughout adverse times, throughout the season, throughout the three years that we’ve been together.”