Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Heat superstar forward LeBron James has come through with some incredible performances thus far in the playoffs, but he may be saving his best for last.
LeBron took the Heat on his back in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers and did the same against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. His performances have many asking just how good LeBron can be in the rest of the Finals.
In the Boston series, LeBron’s best performance was in Game 6 when he scored 45 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, while dishing out 5 assists. He almost single-handedly willed the Heat to victory in the game.
But it’s not his first 40 point output in the playoffs. In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pacers, LeBron scored 40 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and handed out 9 assists to lead the Heat.
But what LeBron did in Game 2 of the NBA Finals is what Heat fans have been clamoring for since James came to Miami in 2010. He put his head down, battled in the post, and simply forced his way to the basket either drawing the foul or hitting a shot.
His aggression ended with him going to the free throw line 12 times during the game. LeBron hit every free throw, which was one less than his playoffs best without a miss.
“You can’t just put one guy on me and allow him to be an island and defend me 1-on-1. It’s about being aggressive and taking what the defense gives me,” James said. “When I shoot double-digit free throws, that means I know personally, I’m being aggressive when I’m getting to the rim. At the end of the day, it’s helping our team.”
James is averaging 31 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game in the NBA Finals. James was aided by Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, and Chris Bosh coming alive in Game 2.
The Big Three of Bosh, Wade, and James scored a combined 72 points in the game while grabbing 29 rebounds and handing out 11 assists. Combined with Battier’s 17 points, including 5-7 from behind the three point line, and Miami had everything they needed to beat the Thunder.
The Thunder are likely to come out much more aggressive in game 3 trying to match Miami’s fire from Game 2. That may be tough for the Thunder as Miami has defended its home court extremely well in the playoffs.
The Heat has run off a 10-2 record thus far in the playoffs. The next three straight games in the Finals will be in the Heat’s house, the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami could win the championship at home if they swept the Thunder over the next three games. But, history isn’t completely on Miami’s side. Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 format for the Finals in 1985, only two teams have swept games 3-5 on their home court.
One was the 2004 Detroit Pistons. The other was the 2006 Miami Heat.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)