Consistency key for the Heat's Big Three to repeat as NBA champs

Mike Ehrmann

When the star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh play well, there's no stopping the Miami Heat no matter which team they play against.

There's a great exchange between Arnold Schwarzenegger and a fellow bodybuilding competitor in the classic 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron". Arnold is trying to rest while his rival speaks to him...

"See, the king of the hill can only go down," the man says in a feeble attempt to push the champ's buttons.

"That's right," Arnold agrees.

"The king of the hill can only go down," he repeats.

"Or stay up," Arnold corrects.

"Or stay on that hill, right. That's the other possibility. But the wolf on the hill--the wolf on the hill, right...is not as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill."

"That's true, he's not as hungry," Arnold says with a sly smile. "But when he wants the food, it's there."

That pretty much sums up the Miami Heat's superstar triumvirate of talent and skill that is MVP LeBron James, all-time Heat leading scorer Dwyane Wade and the talented big man Chris Bosh. When they're truly hungry, it almost doesn't matter if they're facing the Charlotte Bobcats or the San Antonio Spurs because they're that unstoppable.

As amazing a player as LeBron James is, the Heat were reduced to just being a good team while Wade and Bosh struggled through the playoffs. Thanks to a solid core of role players, the Heat were solid enough to dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks and the hobbled Chicago Bulls with relative ease but needed 7 games to put away a talented Indiana Pacers squad.

With the official "return" of the dominant Big 3 not occurring until the crucial Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat hardly had the look of a team that won 27 games in a row during the regular season. With the two struggling so much, the Heat were still a good team but with all three playing up to their abilities, the Heat become unstoppable during the course of the game, especially in transition after creating fast break opportunities with the trio anchoring the team's defense.

Before Game 4, the three were averaging just 43 collective points in the Finals before erupting for 85 points on Thursday night. The offensive explosion was definitely needed but it wouldn't have approached that total if it wasn't for the timely back-to-back Bosh blocks in the fourth quarter or when he called a timeout after hitting the floor for a loose ball, along with Wade and LeBron getting into Spurs passing lanes as well as defending the rim. The Spurs suffered 19 turnovers and yielded 23 points because of it. They also got out-rebounded by a Heat team playing small ball which meant Birdman saw the game from the bench while Bosh anchored the paint. The Spurs only had 5 offensive rebounds during Game 4, just a game after grabbing 19 during their blowout of the defending champs in Game 3.

The Heat are now 5-0 after losses to the Pacers and Spurs, winning by an average of almost 18 points. While it's admirable that the team can bounce back and deliver after adversity, they're also 0-5 after those wins, losing by an average of 13 points. If the Heat want to repeat as NBA champions, they must have back-to-back wins.

After the victory, Wade said it best after his vintage performance...

"I needed a game like this, but my teammates needed a game like this from me...(they) needed me to be aggressive; needed me to play the way that I'm capable of. Most important, they needed the Big 3 to play the way we're capable of. We're not going to win this series if myself, Chris and LeBron don't show up to play on a consistent basis.

"So (Game 4) was kind of one of the best performances that we all had in the playoffs together at the same time. Just being aggressive from start to finish, and hopefully that's what we can see for the next three games."

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