Miami's James rules with his basketball IQ

Tue May 13, 2014 1:29pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - LeBron James dominated the game with 49 points, but the pass he made to key the Miami Heat's playoff win over the Brooklyn Nets revealed a hidden dimension - a chess master's genius for seeing several moves ahead in an instant.

The muscular forward, whose skills, athleticism and versatility have brought him acclaim as the best basketball player in the world, was praised after Monday's game for his basketball "IQ" by Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra.

"He was reading the game," Spoelstra said after the Heat's 102-96 victory gave Miami a 3-1 lead over the host Brooklyn Nets in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final.

"And the biggest play of the game, after scoring that many points, was getting off the ball," the coach said about a pass James whipped outside to Mario Chalmers, who swung it to Chris Bosh for a three-pointer from the corner that snapped a 94-94 deadlock with 57 seconds left in the game.

"He showed great poise and trust. It was a basketball play. That's what makes him unique."

James, a four-time NBA most valuable player, had done most of the scoring all night, taking charge from the top of the key and consistently getting into the paint for layups or challenging defenders in order to get to the free throw line.

This time, James received the ball in the lane but instantly recognized the winning play.

"People are always talking about my basketball IQ," he said softly after the game, looking bookish with his wire-rimmed glasses in contrast to his glaring, inflamed image on court.   Continued...

Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) puts up a shot in front of Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston (14) during the third quarter in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Miami Heat won 102-96.  Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports