Doc Rivers called it this summer. He said if the Heat wanted to make waves, they would start LeBron James at the point. Last night against the Hawks, that’s what they did. He went nuts, scoring 38 points, grabbing 11 boards and dishing out three assists.
But John Hollinger of TrueHoop said it looked eerily similar to the way James played in Cleveland, and not in a good way:
First, I went to a preseason game and a regular-season contest broke out, mostly because both sides played their starters most of the game and left the scrubs on the pine. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward he was trying to use a regular-season rotation for this game, with LeBron James playing 38 minutes and Chris Bosh playing 40.
But second, I went to see the Miami Heat and a Cleveland Cavaliers game broke out. With James dominating the ball, a succession of second-rate Heaters trying to fill in for the injured Wade and Miller (James Jones started, for crying out loud, and played 34 horrifying minutes), and Chris Bosh weirdly ineffective, we largely saw a re-enactment of the Cleveland-era LeBron.
James was mostly brilliant, finishing with 38 points, 11 rebounds and a laughable two assists (he had at least three others that were clear-as-day, immediate-shot-after-the-catch dimes which somehow didn’t land on his ledger), but by the middle of the third quarter he seemed weary from dribbling around for 20 seconds on every trip.
Rivers expects to deal with it in the opener against the Heat Tuesday night. More than anything, it’ll affect ball pressure, because Rajon Rondo won’t be able to hound, say, Carlos Arroyo down the floor and Paul Pierce will drop back.
Today in practice, Rivers said:
On film, it looked pretty good, and we’ll find out on Tuesday. It’s a card they can play. He’s good. Even at point guard he can score. I think he’ll have games where he’ll have big scoring games and then I think he’ll have nights where he’ll have big assist nights. That’s just who he’ll be. That’s who he’s been anyway.
We’re just going to guard it. I mean, hell, as long as he’s standing way out and passing, I’m good with it. But it does give them a dimension. I actually think he’s a point guard. That doesn’t mean he’s not a scoring point, but I think he has the best vision in the league. To me it just makes sense that Erik put the ball in his hands.