In a long and heated NBA playoff series, especially in the NBA finals, each team looks for little advantages anywhere they can find them. An extra drop of motivation that could make the difference between winning and losing.
The Lakers had been in complete control of the first two games of the finals against Miami, not only winning them easily, but leading by double digits for more than 60% of the total time. It looked like a mismatch, until Game 3 on Sunday night, when Jimmy Butler put on an impressive display of leadership and talent, guiding the Heat past the Lakers 115-104, with a chance to tie the series on Tuesday night.
The ABC cameras caught LeBron James leaving the court with about 10 seconds left in the game. No hand shake. No words of encouragement to his teammates. Just a walk of shame to take a shower and wash off the stench of a loss not too many people saw coming. ABC color commentator Mark Jackson thought it was a mistake for James to leave early, “Not a good look,” is how he described it on national television.
It was a big topic at the post game press conferences, as it should be. The Heat are masters at finding any nugget of motivation they can use as a chip on their shoulder, and team president Pat Riley will try to convince his players that the Lakers disrespected the Heat in those final seconds. King James is brushing it off, telling Spectrum SportsNet, “I don’t feel like we’re concerned. We’re not concerned. We know we can play a lot better. We have another opportunity to take a commanding lead on Tuesday, so we relish that opportunity.”
It’s a tasty little subplot, and hopefully something that can turn what was a pretty boring series into a “Fall