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Heat Need Big Game From James Again

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(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A little more than a year ago, the Miami Heat stood on the verge of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals. The team’s heart and the ability of the Big Three were being questioned left and right ahead of Game 6 of the Conference Finals.

Then LeBron James got “the look” and things were never the same for the Heat.

James put the team on his shoulders and ran wild on the Boston Celtics for 45 points and 15 rebounds in Game 6. After that, James and the Heat never looked back en route to the Big Three’s first NBA championship.

This year, the Heat are once again staring elimination in the face and it will likely come down to just how far James and his fellow Big Three members Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can carry the Heat.

LeBron has said repeatedly that he wants the majority of the responsibility for how the Heat performs in the 2013 Finals. When the team has been firing on all cylinders, Miami has looked unbeatable against the San Antonio Spurs.

But when Miami has been playing poorly, as the team did in Games 3 & 5, the Heat resembled a junior varsity squad trying to keep pace with the Spurs. The question is can James once again reach into his veritable bag of tricks and pull out more Game 6 magic.

So what can the Heat expect out of LeBron heading into Game 6? Based on his history in closeout playoff games, Miami will likely get a big output of points, but it may not be enough to put the Heat over the top.

Since he was drafted into the NBA, LeBron has played in eight games that would closeout a series. In those games, James’ teams are just 2-6 overall; but LeBron Has played well in almost every one of the games.

James averages 29 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the closeout games while shooting an average of 43.5 percent from the field. The only question is can he once again elevate his game to another level and get the Heat to a crucial Game 7 where anything can happen?

“We look forward to the challenge,” James said. “We’re going to see if we’re a better team than we were our first year together.”

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