Stop me if you’ve heard this before: LeBron James took over for the Miami Heat on Thursday night and allowed them to take control of the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron once again proved that he is just as clutch as any player in the game by dropping 16 points in the third quarter when his team desperately needed a spark. He also provided the much-needed presence of a leader.
Before the second half began, LeBron huddled his teammates together and went on a profanity-laced tirade that was hardly acceptable for television cameras. James explained the enthusiastic speech to TNT’s Craig Sager after the Game 5 victory.
“What kept us in the game in the first half was our talent, and that’s not what we’re about,” he said, via SI.com’s Point Forward. “We didn’t play with a sense of urgency and we were only down four and that wasn’t a good sign. I just got in ‘em and let them know that we can’t just play by talent. We’ve got to go out and play with a sense of urgency, both offensively and defensively, and my guys responded.”
LeBron responded to his own speech more than anything, finishing the game with 30 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. The Heat outscored the Pacers 30-13 in the third quarter, with LeBron outscoring the entire Indiana team himself.
According to Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard was the one who started lacing into his teammates during halftime when head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t have much to say.
“It all started with Juwan Howard,” Haslem said. “He pretty much started getting into us at halftime. Coach didn’t really have to say much. Then, LeBron just took over and echoed what Juwan said. We weren’t playing with enough energy and effort, we were looking around kind of expecting plays to be made without going out and making them. In the second half, we talked about going out and making plays and taking over on both ends of the floor.”
Whether it was LeBron, Howard or both, it worked. And if you still had questions about LeBron’s leadership after last season’s performance in the playoffs for whatever reason, this should help put those to rest. As LB emphatically stated last year, any talk about LeBron not performing in the clutch should be a thing of the distant past.Google+