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NBA Finals: Heat stay alive with Game 5 win, set sights on more
SportsPulse: Mackenzie Salmon breaks down what was easily the most entertaining game of this NBA Finals, which saw Jimmy Butler and the Heat out-duel the Lakers and force a Game 6.
After LeBron James passed out to Danny Green for a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, fellow players and skeptics debated whether James should’ve passed or shot.
ESPN analyst Jay Williams tweeted: “Yes Danny Green was open but I don’t care what no one says… Bron needed to shoot that shot. PERIOD.”
In contrast, Lakers coach Frank Vogel noted: “With three guys on you, (James) made the right play.”
NBA All-Star Damian Lillard was more in the middle, tweeting: “(James) made the right play… but I woulda shot.”
While James finished Game 5 with 40 points on 15-for-21 shooting with 13 rebounds, his clutch play came into question during a breakdown on NBA TV. That’s where Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas praised James for his handling of pressure throughout his career.
“When you talk about pressure, nobody’s lived up to it and done it better over this period of time than LeBron James,” Thomas said. “The pressure that he took on going to that Laker organization in having Shaq, Kobe, Magic, Kareem, Jerry West, Wilt. To be able to be accepted in that club, you’ve got to be able to bring some hardware to the table. It wasn’t guaranteed that he would bring hardware.
“Taking on that responsibility, accepting it, then going out and doing it and having a chance to win it, there’s no other player that I can think of who has come into the NBA since leaving high school, and has had 17 years of excellent play, responsibility to win championships, and to succeed at the highest level. Then you have to take into account the responsibility off the court as a champion.”
Thomas paid James an even bigger compliment Thursday before Game 5.
“The best and most ‘complete’ player I have seen in my lifetime is @KingJames on and off the floor,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “He passed the eye test and the numbers confirm what my eyes have seen in every statistical category. #Goat let it be known!”
Follow Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.