This Miami victory belonged to the little people, the grunts, the unheralded.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The fact that the Miami Heat won Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night was not surprising.
The fact the defending champion Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs by 19 points was not surprising.
The fact the Heat did it without superhuman efforts from LeBron James...well, that was a tad surprising.
The Heat won 103-84 and James only managed 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. "Only" is a weird word to use because that's a pretty solid stat line, but what we've become accustomed to absurdity when it comes to the league's MVP.
And James' other peers in the Big Three continue to play at a level that makes us want to subtract two members. Dwyane Wade managed 10 points and Chris Bosh posted 12 points and 10 rebounds.
No, this Miami victory belonged to the little people, the grunts, the unheralded.
Mario Chalmers was the high man in the game with 19 points and the Heat's bench was special. Ray Allen netted 13 points on 3-for-5 hooting from 3-point range. Mike Miller, who piled up an impressive amount of DNP-CDs during the regular season went a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc for nine points. And Chris "Birdman" Andersen only had nine.
"That's when they're at their best," noted Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Pop's right in theory, spreading the ball and getting shooters to convert is great. It makes the Heat harder to defend, but can't the argument be made that Miami didn't even play that well if James only had 17 points.
The Heat have become all about James. He mentioned his Cleveland days in the Eastern Conference Finals against he Indiana Pacers. That's a clear reference to the days of hoisting up a lot of shots because he didn't have faith in a guy named "Boobie."
But on this Heat team, he's got three Hall of Famers alongside him. Should he need to do that?
He did against the Pacers, but not in Game 2 against the Spurs. There was no Cleveland LeBron on this night. In fact, James appeared to be holding back on Sunday. He was not aggressive shooting the ball, despite jacking up the most attempts (17).
James went out of his way to not force things so much so that it become borderline awkward watching him. Why wasn't he on the low block where he enjoyed so much success versus the Pacers? Why wasn't he shooting, period?
That's why the Heat can actually improve on their play in this resounding Game 2 victory.
James should score more no matter the circumstances. He could walk on the floor for Game 3 in San Antonio, say to himself he wanted 25 assists and still score more than 17 points.
Now, add a few more points to the mix and James can still hit Allen and Miller for 3-pointers.
Yeah, the Heat haven't even come close to playing their best.
Wade looks older and more broken down than the car you drove in college. Bosh famously declared himself a Hall of Famer already and now, a 12-point, 10- rebound night became something to celebrate.
James has the impossible task. He had a triple-double in Game 1 and it wasn't enough for a win. On Sunday, James went smaller and it worked. For the Heat to be most effective, and win some games in Texas, James will need to produce more than he did in Game 2.
Things won't be as easy in Game 3. San Antonio is sensational at home and as the days tick off the calendar, it's becoming easier to believe Wade and Bosh won't improve.
James might still have to channel his Cavs ego yet. A little more selfish version of LeBron than the one we saw Sunday night is the best LeBron. You'll never have to worry about him being too selfish. He's too great a passer and loves doing it as clearly evidenced in Game 2.
The series is tied and if the Heat win, James is going to be named Finals MVP. But he can do more. It's no big deal if Miami wins, but when the test gets harder, like it will in San Antonio, James will have to play a little better.