Lebron James and the Miami Heat shouldn't need any extra motivation. They aren't even really playing against the Indiana Pacers, as the old cliché goes, they're playing against history. They have the chance of entering the rarefied air of the 3-peat. An accomplishment reserved for only the greatest of teams in professional sports. Lebron is a player that not only is able to supremely focus on the moment, but also recognize its significance in history. Achieving that task would be much more difficult had the Heat slipped to a 2-1 game deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Yet, a minute into the 2nd quarter they were struggling horribly on both ends of the floor. They had more turnovers (eight) than made baskets (six), were shooting just 35.3 percent from the field, and had only mustered 14 points. Then it appears one play changed the course of the game. Leborn caught the ball in the low post. He dribbled a couple times and spun inside to take a shot off the backboard. The ref saw the play and called on offensive foul on James. Lebron disagreed. Unlike loud mouth, penalty inviting type players, he didn't say a word. Instead, he led his team back to a decisive victory. Shooting 64.3% for the remainder of the quarter and causing 8 turnovers took any steam from the Pacers sails and reinforced that the Heat are the better team when the two are on the floor.
One thing Lebron has clearly developed over the years is his leadership ability. It's a necessary quality for an all-time great. Once he had decided he had enough, so did everyone else on that roster. They started flying around the court and showing why they had the best defense in the NBA during the regular season. Wade stopped looking old and sore and started penetrating again. Bosh knocked down a couple 3's from the corner and almost as if by flicking a light switch, Miami was once again looking dominant. But one thing the Heat can't forget...there is a series after this.
It looks like the Spurs have the Western Conference Finals in full control. As good as they have been over the years, some analysts are actually making the argument that this may be the best Spurs team ever. The big three are just as dominant as they have always been, but the bench is playing out of control. Leading the way and growing up in front of our eyes is Sugar K Leonard. Shaw said his game is sweet and he knows what he is talking about. Leonard has the ability to bring instant energy off the bench when Popovich wants to change the pace of the game and he is good enough to score at any time. He knows how to use his quickness in the half-court and challenges every possession of defense. He is going to be a handful for the heat.
Make no mistake about it, the Heat are going to be considered the underdog in a series against the Spurs. However, they definitely have what it takes to come out on top. The main thing the Heat are going to have to do to win is control the tempo. At this level both teams are so talented that they have the ability to take the game over at any time. When a team is able to control the tempo they're able to get into a rhythm. When they get into a rhythm is when everything looks effortless. The Spurs are masters at controlling the rhythm of a game. When SA gets hot and tries to push the pace, Miami has to be able to slow the game down into half-court possessions and force tough shots. They have to know when they can stretch the floor and get a couple easy baskets. If they can keep the Spurs from controlling the tempo they can likely keep them from getting into any sustained rhythm.
The tempo of the game is like ring generalship in fighting, it never shows up on any stat sheet or box score, but show me one champion who hasn't mastered it. Let's face it, if the Heat hope to walk away with some more hardware in a few weeks they're going to have to ‘Play Like a Champion' against a better team. They have veteran guys on the team who know how to win, and young guys like Norris Cole who can provide that extra fire. They can provide more ‘Heat' than just a name. They have the ability to turn it up any time they want to, they proved that about a minute into the 2nd quarter of last game, they question is how long are they going to do it for.