A brilliant clutch performance. The head-to-head matchup with 22-year-old Nicolas Batum turned out to be rich basketball theater as the two went at each other all Sunday night. James took over when the Heat needed him most in the fourth quarter, doing everything to nudge Miami over the top -- even if it meant playing center at times. James sprinkled in some careless turnovers on the night, but continued on his rebounding tear.
Wade looked absolutely unstoppable from the start, scoring 15 of the Heat's first 19 points tonight. But most of those points came from leak-outs into fast-break buckets and that's a hard recipe to follow consistently. He cooled off thereafter once the transition opportunities waned, but provided some big buckets down the stretch. Wade could have used more basket attack but that might be nitpicking.
As has often been the case, Bosh fell in love with the midrange game against LaMarcus Aldridge and rarely attacked the basket. As a result, Bosh failed to get to the line much and give the Blazers a reason to play him honestly. Aldridge got the best of him, as the Blazers set up one-on-one matchups against Bosh with the game on the line. And it worked.
The Heat can usually survive with the Big Three shouldering the bulk of the scoring load, but the surrounding pieces barely put a dent in the Blazers' defense. The Heat depend on James Jones, Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers to provide the 3-point punch, but they were nowhere to be found on Sunday night. Instead, the role players stood around on offensive sets and made shoddy fouls on the other end.
Portland couldn't find an answer for LeBron James down the stretch but it brought the Heat to the brink. Blazers coach Nate McMillan made a pregame vow to keep the Heat's offense on its toes and his team executed its game plan by showing several different half-court defenses throughout the contest. If it weren't for Patty Mills' gutsy play off the bench, the Portland crowd would have received credit as the team's sixth man on the night.