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#pounditTuesday, June 6, 2023

Dirk Nowitzki Wins Sick for Mavs, LeBron James Disappears for Miami Heat

If there were a proper time to criticize LeBron James for his lack of offense during the NBA Finals, Game 4 was it. The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks played their third game that was decided by a basket, and for the second time this series the Mavericks came out on top.

Dirk Nowitzki fought through a fever that reached 101 degrees to score 21 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — in Dallas’ win. Though Jason Terry shot down any comparison to Michael Jordan’s infamous flu game in the ’97 finals, there is little doubt that Dirk came up big in the clutch. And if you have any wonders about how sick he was, just look at his face in the picture. The dude looked like the cousin of death.

LeBron James on the other hand did very little down the stretch. LBJ handled the ball and distributed in the previous finals games and the strategy resulted in wins two of the three games. His decisions to pass to his teammates were usually the right ones because he was double-teamed leaving someone open. But LeBron showed very little aggression in Game 4 even when he should have. He received high pick and rolls allowing him a one-on-one match up yet he decided not to drive late in the game. For whatever reason, he didn’t attack the basket and he ended up with just eight points on 3-for-11 shooting. The eight-point performance was LeBron’s playoff career low and it left him saying he needs to be more assertive in the future.

Though LeBron passing the ball and being the facilitator has worked throughout the playoffs, he should have done more in Game 4. He’s not the reason the team lost the game — despite his meager eight points they could have tied it up if Dwyane Wade made a free throw. But LeBron’s lack of aggression prevented the Heat from winning the game the way they could have. He played fine with nine rebounds, seven assists, and fairly good help defense, but LeBron just wasn’t looking to score, and the team needed him to.

The series is tied 2-2, Dallas may have found a more comfortable starting lineup featuring J.J. Barea, and Jason Terry is working around screens to get open looks. Three of the games have been decided by three points or less. We shouldn’t expect the closeness of these games to change, but we should expect a different, more aggressive LeBron James.


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