LeBron needs fourth quarter freshness

MIAMI — These games, as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is fond of saying, are coming down to the last three or four possessions. Well, then maybe it also comes down to an issue of stamina, in which case, we know what the gas meters are reading:

Dirk: on “F.”

LeBron: “E.”

These two players, so important to their team’s late-game fortunes, couldn’t be more opposite here in the NBA Finals. Dirk Nowitzki has outscored LeBron James in fourth quarters 44-13 and the numbers don’t completely explain why.

By the fourth quarter, LeBron has chased Jason Terry and/or J.J. Barea for three quarters. Dirk hasn’t chased anybody. Basically: LeBron is using precious energy on defense while Dirk is getting away with playing little or none.

LeBron admitted Saturday: “Anytime you can get a little rest here, or a little rest there, it definitely helps.”

The best way to defend a scorer is to force him to use his legs on defense, so he won’t have much use of them in the moment of truth. In that sense, Miami is allowing Dirk to get off easy.

How much energy would Dirk have if forced to guard someone who will make him work? Too often, Miami will put Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem on the floor for long stretches. Together, they may combine for five shots, and neither will punish Dirk by constantly running from sideline to sideline, the way Terry and Barea do to LeBron. Dirk rarely has to venture 15 feet form the basket, to guard someone who’ll probably pass the ball, anyway.

Here’s a strategy that might change the situation for Miami:

Use the unit of Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in generous stretches. That’s four players who the defense must respect. In that instance, Dirk must guard either Bosh or Miller. And whoever Dirk is guarding, that man should make Dirk work.

And: Spoelstra needs to ease the burden on LeBron. In the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron didn’t guard Derrick Rose until the fourth quarter. Well, LeBron shouldn’t chase Terry around for 30 minutes. Let Chalmers guard Terry and deal with the repercussions of that. Then put LeBron on Terry in the fourth, or not at all if Chalmers is doing a decent job.

“I haven’t found my niche in the fourth quarter thus far,” LeBron said.

At this point, Spoelstra needs to push whatever buttons he has left. His guy looks gassed late in the game, and the guy who’s been killing Miami looks fresh enough to play a fifth period, if necessary.


  1. emmanuel d mallari jr says:

    simply put, the mavs played team game as opposed to the heats. they depend too much on their big 3. lebron as good as he is for 3 quarters hasn’t proven anything yet especially at crunch time (4th quarter). is he tired? no, i don’t think so. it’s the heart… he is not willing to take the cudgel and carry his team on his shoulder when he is most needed. the ghost of the past is haunting him.

  2. pakal says:

    whatever !!!! he is still the choke king to uS!

  3. Ron says:

    Sounds to me that Carlile beat Spoelstra in the coaching department. Seems to me that Dallas played smarter then Miami. Sounds to me that teamwork won.
    Bottom line is 3 “superstars” in their twenties could not beat a TEAM of smart playerrs in their thirties.

  4. Rudi says:

    It’s either that or those frickin energy Sheets Lebron is hawking arent working.

  5. Dirk is Da Maaaaaan!!! says:

    I went to my local grocery store during the fourth quarter of game 4 & asked for some veggies & the shopkeeper said we’re out of everything except theKD/Thunder & Lebron genetically engineered organic stuff ” The newly stocked art-i-CHOKEs”!!! I said forget it!!! I’m into the No-quit-ski dunkin Durkin gurkins & got back to the tube in time to see Dirk go to work & finish off The Heat who should be renamed to “The Frigid” after this season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. tata says:

    Dirk is playing “little to none” on defense? LeBron and the 3-ME-EGOS must really suck then if Dallas is playing 4 on 5 defense and they’re still down 3 games to 2.

  7. tata says:

    LeBron hasn’t been chasing terry or Barrea. He is mostly guarding 38-year-old Jason Kidd. If that is tiring him out then let the MJ comparisons stop now. And when he has been covering Terry in the last two 4th quarters he has gotten TORCHED. Just another case of MeBron having to do it all and end up doing nothing. A stark contrast in coaching style. Spoelstra needs to get a walkie talkie and let Riles take over from the stands.

  8. MaFox says:


  9. We ´d better get going if we´re going to make the next match.Please feel free to send me to the hell. Taking vacation now is out of the question because we have to meet that deadline.

  10. 78th says:

    I am going to have it out with Dallas about all the times that They have told us lies.

  11. 27 says:

    Completely sorrounded by our players, the enemy finally gave in.

  12. Joseph says:

    Lebron, Wade stay humble and hungry like Dirk Nowitzki

  13. TOTOY MOLA says:

    The heat starter must be

    James Jones – Forward
    Eddie House- Guard
    Eric Dampier – Center
    Juwan Howard- Forward
    Mario Chalmers- Guard

    Trust me Spo..This will have a good team chemistry. bench the big three.. GOOD LUCK TO HEAT…..next year.

  14. Lebron will Kill Mavs says:

    he is greatest player ever, even jordan and kobe can’t do things he did in THIS season playoffs
    he will bury Mavs with these plays. check these out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIkBjuVGbb4 <——– not even you so call black mamba can do this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_EGAA8gXdI <———– jordan? please this is how king james own the NBA

    and then you got bosh playing best in his career like this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h60uviwKC0 <——- chandler got no chance Vs this

    and wade is giving MVP performances

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pYGtlTnWiE <——— how's dirk gonna stop this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pglgr5O6jJE <———— wade will leave kidd in dust

    and those plays would have been more brutal if the refs were not helping the Mavs

    • tata says:

      MeBron scored 13 points combined through the 4th quarters of 5 games. There is NO WAY Kobe or MJ could ever do that.

      GREATEST OF ALL TIME???? MeBron is proving that he isn’t even the best player on his team today.

    • Dirk is Da Maaaaaan!!! says:

      Lebron in the finals is worse than Stevenson!!! Lebron’s been relegated to role-playing chump!!! Especially, in da 4th qtr!!! Stevenson got in his head as an old nemesis with a vendetta & ultimately got his revenge from the whipped up Wizard days!!!
      Lebron can talk Da talk but can’t walk Da walk!!! JT aka Da Jet now there’s someone who can back up his talk & stupid but brave actions (Tat of trophy b4 even winning) & schooling Bron & company in elimination game (game 6)!!!

      Oh & like the name says Dirk is Da Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan letting his game do all da talking!!!
      Lebron better than Jordan/Kobe: Only in his wet dreams!!!, he has the art-i-CHOKE & can’t even win with 2 other allstars!!! He’s the QUEEN (no king) of Choke with not even an inkling of Jordan (Pls Pippen what were u think’n) or Kobe’s greatness!!! He was the lone King in Cleveland & my fav player but now he’s one of the 3 stoogers on “The Frigid” (oops they’re still the luke warm Heat)!!! Absolute clowns praying on Dirk’s illness & he still showed up & played better than the entire 3 Stoogers trio especially, down da stretch!!! I think NBA CHAMPS/Finals MVP says it all!!! Need we say anymore about Dirk’s greatness/legacy & No-quit-ness status!!!

    • bitoy says:

      LBJ the greatest?? the gretest drama queen or the greatest choker perhaps but greratest ever??? I don’t think so. MJ has 6 rings, Kobe has 5 LBJ a big fat ZERO!!! not even pairing up with 2 superstars can help him get his ring. .

  15. SaveOurSonics says:

    See this is why you can’t just have three superstars and a sub-par supporting cast, Lebron James needs backup, he needs to rest but he’s getting barely any rest at all because the Miami Heat bench is less than adequete. While the play from Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem has been very good, the rest of the bench just seems to not be performing to a high enough level, especially at the center position, and Mike Bibby has performed pretty poorly if you ask me. Although Lebron James has played very poorly in the 4th quarter during the finals, it may not be all his fault. This is why TEAM is so important, and that’s why the Mavericks have a 3-2 lead.

    • DIRK'S REVENGE!!! says:

      There are a BUNCH of Miami players not getting minutes …

      Meanwhile Dallas is playing CARDINAL!!! He looks so OUT OF PLACE … but ACTUALLY BRINGS SOME D INTENSITY!!!

      Carlise is WHIPPING Spoelstra’s ARSE and better TEAM BALL is beating BETTER ATHELETES!!!

      Just image if Butler was on the floor … Miami would be DONE ALREADY!!!

  16. watcher says:

    Wow. I was aware of your Miami Heat leanings Shaun, but to suggest Bron should be managed role player style throughout the Finals? C’mon man, we all know that’s clutching at straws. Jet is now compared to the league MVP Rose? James should spend the first three quarters chasing around Kidd maybe? Or better yet, why not have him defend no-one or ice him till the final quarter? Laughable. I guess some people won’t believe what they see, no matter how many times they see it. LBJ is not a consistent clutch player. It’s that simple.

  17. Chervin says:

    Unfortunately, Miami is in extremely reverse situation. James & Wade & Bosh supposed to create more problem with Mavs by attacking non stop. Instead, James & Bosh ended up worrying how to defend Mavs and spent their time chasing…The BEST DEFENSE IS YOUR OFFENSE. DO IT AND YOU WILL SEE TERRY, DIRK, AND OTHER KIDS MORE VULNERABLE AND WORRY.

  18. Hello... says:

    When Mr. Spo retired , he had 40 years of teaching under his belt.

  19. Wet sand says:

    I know you want to talk about vacations plans, but please keep to the subject while we figure out the answer to this other problem.

  20. rastaralph says:

    r u kiddin me…chalmers will guard terry? f spoeltera will do these n game 6…..hes just givin the trophy to mavz b4 the game is over

  21. Wet sand says:

    If you go through the proper channels in game 6, it´s sometimes impossible to ge anything done quickly.

  22. dave says:


  23. TrueAthlete says:

    The author of this article is obviously not an athlete; otherwise, he would realize that if you’ve trained yourself well you are able to overcome any exhaustion you feel to secure a win. Blaming LeBron’s choking is nothing more than an apology for him being over-hyped, and Nowitski was able to complete a game in this series while he had a fever.

    I’m a martial artist, and during summer Black Belt testing, we start the day at 7 am with a 5 mile run that you have to complete within a set time, followed by putting on full uniforms (including sparring gear during one portion) and being pushed as hard as they can command you for at least six hours with minimal water breaks, the doors closed and no air conditioning to heat up the building. You feel sick, totally exhausted, but if you have the mentality to continue, you can complete the test. Playing a 48-minute basketball game when you’re supposedly one of the greatest athletes in the world is easy in comparison.

    • john says:

      Same when I trained for the marathon I ran. When it was time to do the actual marathon, I was ready. And I’m by far the best athlete, but I took the training seriously.

  24. Nisha-Let's Talk says:

    Lebron played 46 mins the last game. That’s a long time to be chasing around people. I like it when Miller and Chamlers are in together because that forces the Dallas d to come up a little because Miller and now Chalmer will drain 3’s in your face. Bibby needs to get that together so their starting line up will be that dangerous too. Coach probably needs to change the point guard line up because Mario Chalmers is playing wayyy better than Bibby right now. Everyone will see and SHUT UP when Miami beats Dallas on Sunday and win the championship on Tuesday. Lebron’s name will be written ALL OVER game 6 and game 7. All of this talk is NOTHING but HYPE for him. REAL HEAT FAN SINCE JULY 2010 IS OUT!

  25. We´re going to be late for the trophy. You´d better step on it!

  26. Wade really goofed up on game four;did you mess up, too?

  27. Just because Wade had a serious problem with his lower-back, he didn´t have to go off the deep end and resign, did he?

  28. HEAT BELIEVER says:

    DONT YOU DARE BLAME THE COACH… LBJ is used to playing 40+ min a game back in cleveland.. wade is 38 max min.. c’mon thier paid to be in the game.. stop whinning HEAT HATERS AND HEAT FAN FAKERS!!!

  29. AndrewOne says:

    Lebron does not have to show nothing, he clearly demostrated against Boston and Chicago that he is one of the best players of the NBA. He seems to be clearly less aggressive and this seems to be related to lack of stamina. I totally agree with Shaun, he should rest some more especially in the times overlapping 3rd-4quarter. He cannot do the point guard bringing the ball over from back court and putting his energy defending on Mavs small guards. Then he has just to get confident, it make no sense that he doesn’t put medium jumper against Kidd or Marion. Go Lebron, do not have any fear! Go Heat and any case lot of respect to Mavs that are playing great!

  30. In most games, a player who makes waves is not appreciated.

  31. Greg Kuver says:

    Perhaps its the coaching. Rick is out-coaching whatshisface. Dirk is no great defender for sure, gees, this is the NBA, most of these guys couldn’t guard anyone. Rick is using Dirk to the best advantage. Tough crap for MIA. A better coach would figure out the best way to defend the oposition’s best player.

  32. mon says:

    dont blame it on the coach. Spoelstra has done a good job with this team,he sets good plays like after timeouts, during runs by mavs, and so on.. here is a good question. When did you see mj get tired, complained, when he guarded russel, hornacek, stockton? as we all know they are all good shooters. mj manages to execute well when its winning time. if you are determined and motivated , no any amount of obstacle can stop you. and for the suggested line-up, ROKEC is ryt, do you really think that lineup can play defense against chandler, marion, nowitzski? to add up, u can mix this guys barea, terry, stevenson, peja, all are good shooters. your just not seeing it from different perspective SHAUN.

  33. whitemamba says:

    stop making excuses for lebron, he’s not missing because he’s tired, he isn’t taking shots AT ALL in the 4th quarter. he doesn’t want to for whatever reason, maybe he doesn’t want to take responsability for his team winning or losing and hopes that wade will get the job done. he shot 3 times in the 4th quarters of the last two games combined, and he’s not going to the line because he’s not even attacking the rim. i liked better what rose did, he attacked, and even if he missed i can’t blame him for not trying, next time he’ll surely do better and he gained a lot of experience in handling games on the line. james isn’t attacking and i think that’s what people blame him for, because even if he misses we all wouldn’t be that hard on him. that said, i really hope dirk gets the ring cos he deserves it more for his play in the series

  34. Truth says:

    Nowitzki calls spoof by LeBron and Wade “childish”

    What the He ll do you expect?!? It’s the prima donna twins LJ and Wade! Now, let Nowitzki attempt the same type of behavior and the media would crucify him as a bad character and racist. Here’s hoping LJ stops on the court for a media “decision” and it takes the heat out of the game.

  35. objective says:

    Dallas is a great team BUT here’s the thing, they don’t play defense. They have a way better coach than miami. Spoelstra should put Bibby on the bench where he belongs. More important Lebron should get the ball near the rim. it’s NOT the Dallas that’s holding Lebron back. It’s himself. Let’s see what Kidd can do against Lebron near the rim. Wade should carry the ball more. Also play Mario more. We are gonna go to a 7 game but the outcome can go either way.Anyone who wins DESERVE it.If Miami wins it THEY deserve it. Nothing come free in this world. ‘Stop hating and enjoy one of the greatest playoffs ever. I know every Laker fan is rooting now for Dallas because they know Kobe’s legacy is over and they are afraid once Lebron starts stacking up rings. But Nowitzky is a great player and he deserved a ring.

  36. Really? says:

    What you have to consider though is that if someone besides James covers Terry or Barea, those two are just going to score more. Drik doesn’t play in a vacuum, he has the support of fantastic players who contribute so much in the fourth that having James off court and resting will destroy them. That, plus having a line-up of Miller, Chalmers, Bosh, James, and Wade would leave the team nothing when those five have to rest. That’s the problem with a team of Big 3 and a moderate bench…there aren’t enough people for the work and responsibility to be distributed around properly. Miami took on the burden of tiring their star players out when they created a team that revolved around the over-inflated ego of Lebron James.

  37. rokec says:

    “Here’s a strategy that might change the situation for Miami:
    Use the unit of Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in generous stretches. That’s four players who the defense must respect. In that instance, Dirk must guard either Bosh or Miller. And whoever Dirk is guarding, that man should make Dirk work.”

    And if Chandler is in the game than who will guard Chandler? Who will guard Dirk? Do you really think that James can guard Dirk if even Bosh can’t. And even when Haslem is guarding him can score but Haslem knows how to guard Dirk or at least limitate him.

  38. BLM73 says:

    LeBron needs even more people making excuses for him? Stop choking and play ball already lol.

  39. haha says:

    agree.. im a lbj fan..but i dont deny that his performance in finals is terrible…but coach has to do better job.. i mean it is lbj;s fault for not stepping up in fourth quarter..but at the same time coach doesnt even have any stretagies to fight with dallas. without dwayne wade or lebron james… this team is just a mess….

  40. stof says:

    Pretty pathetic that you have to figure this out for Spoeltra.
    But can they guard Dirk and Matrix and Chandler?
    Who should LeBron defend to not get tired? Kidd? If he defends the Matrix or Chandler he’ll get banged up, and no way you put him on Dirk to rest.
    And Wade? He definately has to defend on someone easy because he’s banged up, and he’s the guy they know they can depend on in the fourth, James has’nt proven himself yet.
    Miller isn’t that good of a defender either.
    I think it’s a nice idea on one end but this lineup can’t stop the Mavs offense.
    The only way to keep Lebron rested is to put him on the bench. But then again, they do need him those other three quarters in which he does put up those numbers.

    In my opinion, play LeBron for three quarters and then put him on the bench in the fourth, and let a roleplayer defend and do his part. Then Miami will get the most out of it.

    • stof says:

      And mayby you can put him back on the final minutes of the game and then you might get some production out of him.

  41. berkamore says:

    Agree. And Spo should also sit LeBron for a few minutes so he can catch his breath. Dirk gets his rest while Bron is almost always on the floor. I understand why he has nothing left in the 4th quarter.

  42. LOL says:

    Please people do not buy into this pathetic excuse of Lebron is tired in the 4th quarter. As good as he is. He is choking in the 4th. there is nothing else to it. Kobe, AI, Jordan list can go way on… are smaller less athletic players. and they never would say they are tired come 4th quarter. That is when the greats get there 2nd wind. Enough said.

    • Jake says:

      I wonder how Kobe, Jordan, and A.I. would feel about you calling them “less athletic” than Lebron.

      • craziness? says:

        They are. Nothing against those three, they were/are great in their own regard, but Lebron is a freak. Physically, he’s head and shoulders above everyone on the floor, except maybe Wade.

  43. bob says:

    I saw Lebron before the game and asked him to break a dollar. He only gave me $0.75 in return. I asked him for the rest and he said,
    I don’t have a fourth quarter.