|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2013||[Print without images]|
LOS ANGELES -- The pressure surrounding LeBron James and the Miami Heat is beginning to build. The defending NBA champs face a 2-1 deficit in the Finals to the San Antonio Spurs and at least one former champion believes the Heat aren't just being beat on the court but also between the ears.
"Mentally, the Spurs are strongest right now," Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace told ESPNLosAngeles.com prior to the Heat's 113-77 loss to the Spurs on Tuesday. "I think LeBron and (Chris) Bosh, they want it to be given to them. I don't think they're taking it upon themselves like a (Michael) Jordan would have done."
They do have the best team, but if they don't play like the best team, they're going to lose and the Spurs will take advantage of opportunities.” -- Metta World Peace
Referring to the Heat, World Peace added, "They do have the best team, but if they don't play like the best team, they're going to lose and the Spurs will take advantage of opportunities."
World Peace also recently tweeted his "All Mental-Toughness Team" of the decade and included Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki, with James being noticeably absent.
James had an abysmal Game 3 by his standards. The four-time MVP finished with 15 points on 7-for-21 shooting, 11 rebounds, five assists and two turnovers while registering a plus-minus of -32 in 39 minutes of playing time. Bosh was similarly ineffective, putting up 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes.
World Peace believes Miami's role players will have to step up if the Heat are going to have a shot at securing back-to-back titles.
Unheralded Heat starter Mario Chalmers had that type of night in Game 2, scoring a team-high 19 points in Miami's 19-point rout of a win, but the fifth-year guard disappeared with zero points on 0-for-5 shooting, four fouls and four turnovers Tuesday.
"Chalmers, he wants it," World Peace said. "He gets it. He's not as talented as LeBron, but he has more heart. That's those Derek Fisher type of players. Players that have more heart that are not as talented and play hard."
World Peace, who during the 2010-11 season ranked Bryant and Kevin Durant as the league's top two players and when asked about James said, "I only count to two," contending that he has nothing personal against Miami's star.
"Everybody knows I'm a LeBron fan, I always tweet good things about LeBron," World Peace said. "This is straight as a fan. I'm a fan now. I'm not in the playoffs, so I'm a fan of the game enjoying the playoffs. When I'm in the playoffs, I'm not enjoying anybody.
"So, as a fan, sometimes to see LeBron not take over, I'm kind of like, 'Come on, let's do it.' His pops went to jail with my older brother. My brother spent 10 years in jail, they were locked up together. I'm a fan of LeBron, so I always want to see him do well and sometimes I'm like, 'Step it up! Start playing.' "
And if James can't improve on his 16.7 points per game average in the Finals on 38.9 percent shooting overall and 23.1 percent from 3?
"If Miami has any flaws, the Spurs will win," World Peace said. "They will not let Miami off the hook."