MIAMI — A long time ago Pat Riley said, “There is winning and there is misery,” and it’s pretty much going to be the latter for LeBron James if he can’t get the Miami Heat just one lousy two-game winning streak over the next 48 hours.
It will all fall on James if the Heat has its season end in misery either Tuesday in Game 6 or Thursday in Game 7. There is going to be no in-between for the best basketball player in the world, who is being judged on whether he wins multiple titles and how many.
Two wins in a row will get the Heat two championships in a row and keep the heat off James. But one more loss and you can forget about the 27-game winning streak, the 66-win regular season and all the other great moments that the Heat has had leading up to its third straight trip to the Finals.
If the Spurs are celebrating on Miami’s home floor after Game 6, the Heat’s season will be a failure. The same will be true if the Spurs are dancing on Thursday and back home they take to the downtown streets by the carload, celebrating until the wee hours, as they did quite prematurely into early Monday morning.
In either case, it’s misery for James.
But we’re not at that point in the 2013 Finals and we might not ever get there because he still can have a big say in getting his team the only winning streak that will matter in this basketball season.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
James and gang look to turn up the Heat on Tony Parker (r.) and the Spurs.
“I have to come up big, for sure, in Game 6,” James said after he came up quite small on Sunday. “But I believe we all have to play at a high level in order to keep the series going. So me being one of the leaders of this team, I do put a lot of pressure on myself to force a Game 7 and I look forward to the challenge.”
We all know that he is capable of producing an epic game, even if he hasn’t had one of those in Miami’s 21 playoff games this spring. Or does anyone need to be reminded about Game 6 in Boston last spring?
That’s the advantage Miami always has, even if he again disappointed in a fourth quarter of a Finals game.
When he didn’t score a basket in the last period until the final 3:27 on Sunday, when his team was already down by 17, and when he walked off the court amassing only three points in the final quarter, he didn’t perform like the reigning and four-time MVP.
“The basketball gods are in our favor right now,” the Spurs’ Danny Green said after he made more big shots than James.
That’s selling San Antonio short, because the Spurs are championship-quality. But maybe the gods are smiling on Tim Duncan. This would be his crowning moment, to take down the reigning MVP in the Finals, something he has never done in any of his previous four title runs.