LeBron James has to win championships plural to live up to the expectations set by him on Decision Day, 2010. With that understood, his performances in games 6 and 7 against Boston should reduce the talk that he can't play well under extreme pressure.
In recent postseasons, LeBron was absent in similar situations. None was more noticeable than his disappearances in games 5 and 6 of last year's NBA Finals. He hid in corners, played hot potato with the ball, and did everything in his power to make himself invisible during the most important moments of those games. It was flight over fight in game 5 against Boston two years ago. Fifteen points on a mere 14 shot attempts in the all-important 5th game of a 2-2 series.
Faced with another flight or fight moment last week, he showed up and delivered....twice. In aggregate, he averaged 38 points, 13.5 rebounds, and shot 60% from the floor in two win or go-home games. His 45 point, 15 rebound show in Game 6 saved Miami's season. His 31 and 12 in Game 7 with his team trailing most of the way propelled his team to the finals. Nothing reflects how much he embraced the moment with aggressivness versus passiveness than his free throw attempts. In the final two games against Boston, he attempted 26 free throws. In the entire 6-game series last year against Dallas in the finals, he attempted a total of 20.
How should one describe what we just saw relative to what we've seen in recent seasons? Progress. I'm not crowning him for anything yet. I'm not about to put him on a pedestal prematurely. I'm just recognizing that he cleared a huge hurdle last week. The demons that sent him into hiding last year were gone last week. Or maybe they're just waiting for him in Oklahoma City.
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