LeBron James and the Miami Heat picked up a big victory on Thursday night to tie the NBA Finals at one game apiece, as the series moves to Florida for the next three contests. Most talking points are likely going to revolve around whether or not a foul should have been called late in the game, but the key to the game was James' play on the other end of the court.
There are plenty of people in the world that seem to revel in the fact that James has yet to win an NBA championship, but the Heat superstar seems to be moving closer to shedding the narrative that he's "unclutch" and "not a closer." The most recent indication came on Thursday night, according to Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen.
The big difference was in LeBron himself. After operating from the perimeter in a Game 1 loss, in which he played to the style of his former self, he opened Game 2 by setting up near the basket and attacking whenever possible. The Heat opened a crucial 18-2 lead, but more impressive was their finishing down the stretch as Russell Westbrook and Durant threatened to see if the Heat would wilt.
It's still early, and there will be many more fourth quarters to be dueled against Durant, but this was the kind of result James had been seeking on the biggest stage, and it was the kind of leadership that made his teammates want to sign up with him. They have been in this together for two years of vilification and second-guessing, and neither Wade nor Bosh has ever publicly regretted having attached his good name to the nasty carnival that has been created around LeBron. They've had faith that a night like this would come.
The Heat will likely have to win the championship -- not just Game 2 -- if James is going to remove the narrative for good. If he's able to keep playing like he has as of late, there's a good chance that happens.
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