Additionally, if the Celtics can start making these games tight in the fourth quarter, they could start to re-awaken some of LeBron’s late-game demons. James tends to thrive in games that aren’t particularly close and the pressure is off him, like the first game of this series, but when things get tough late in the match, he tends to tighten up.
It may seem like a cliché at this point, but he’s had fourth quarter issues as recently the team’s previous series against Indiana. In Game 3 against the Pacers, he scored a scant eight points in the final quarter as the Heat lost in a blowout. Although Miami ultimately won Game 4 after a close fourth quarter, James was virtually invisible, scoring just seven points to end the game.
If the Celtics can start forcing LeBron into these crunch time situations once again, they can start to shift the news cycle back to his greatest weakness. It doesn’t matter if Dwyane Wade or Mario Chalmers can actually close out wins for the team, it just matters that people start talking about LeBron’s insecurities as he heads back to the biggest stage in basketball.
After all, it was against this very Boston team that he suffered his final meltdown in Cleveland back in 2010. He may look intimidating right now as he throws up easy triple doubles, but it won’t take much for the Celtics to derail his momentum and get everyone gossiping if losing in the Finals once more means that he’ll opt out of his contract after next season.
It certainly doesn’t help that both teams in the Western Conference seem like more than a match for the Heat right now. Whether it’s the ruthless veteran efficiency of San Antonio or the jaw-dropping athleticism of Oklahoma City, it would seem that either of these teams has a better shot at winning the title than Miami.
However, as James and Wade demonstrated in their last few games against Indiana, when Miami’s two superstars start running up and down the court with reckless abandon, there’s little anyone can do to stop them.
Dallas used their phenomenal team defense and some late game heroics to beat the Heat last year, but this year, it may be mind games with the Celtics that slows LeBron down. Boston might not have a chance to win, but how could anyone look away with this at stake?