As LeBron James nears his fourth NBA championship, it appears he is becoming nocturnal in an effort to remain vigilant about the task at hand of closing out the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Prior to a powerful Game 4 win, James reportedly shot his Lakers teammates a text message in the middle of the night with a simple message: That the following night’s game was a must-win.
“We understand what’s at stake,” James explained. “The job is not done. We get an opportunity to get our bodies back underneath us with an extra day of rest but also keep our minds sharp. I am looking forward, once again, to looking at the film tomorrow. Do all around the clock treatment and treating it like we play Thursday. I’m going to continue to get the work in and continue to not sleep until the job is done. So, I look forward to the next match.”
It may not seem like a great idea to play a deciding NBA Finals game having not slept in a few days, but at this point James’ judgment probably supersedes ours. If it pays off, he’ll have several months to get plenty of sleep before next season.
There are side effects to the no sleeping plan, as the King gets a little bored late at night in the Bubble. That much was clear when James posted a joking meme overnight following Game 4.
NBA Finals: Lakers vs. Heat Sunday, October 4, 2020 Erik Spoelstra Miami Heat Game 3: Postgame Miami Heat – 115, Los Angeles Lakers – 104 Q. Should we be surprised that you guys get down 0-2 in The Finals and it’s a guy from Marquette who just does crazy things? Are you surprised by that? ERIK SPOELSTRA: Look, how do you — how else do you say it other than Jimmy effing Butler. But this is what he wanted, this is what we wanted. It’s really hard to analyze or describe Jimmy until you actually feel him between the four lines. He’s a supreme, elite competitor and we needed it. Obviously this was a very desperate urgent game and he was doing it on both ends of the court, just put his imprint on every important part of the game. He’s in the top percentile of this entire association in terms of conditioning and you saw he just got stronger as the game went on. But in terms of you saying a Marquette guy, you know, Dwyane swore to us, he looked Pat and I dead in the eye and said this is your guy. This is the next guy. But it’s also just one. So we also have perspective, like we’re not going to get carried away with this. Q. To follow up, double-digit leads mean nothing in a three-point era now, obviously, but you had a couple slip away and then Rondo’s layup early in the fourth put you guys down two. At that point, were you worried about how much you would have had left? You are playing shorthanded and all that, were you worried at all? ERIK SPOELSTRA: No, our guys are in great condition. It’s more about conquering those moments of truth during the game and this is where this opponent is probably — not probably, they are better than anybody in the league at that. You have LeBron and Rondo controlling and orchestrating the important parts of the game and we were losing those battles big in the first two games. So you’re not expecting it to be easy. Like it’s a 12-point lead, that’s going to go like that (snaps fingers), but you have to be able to respond to it and do it appropriately. You have to do it with intensity, but you have to do it with a mind. To get what we’re trying to do, it can’t just be running around as hard as you can, you have to have a real thought behind it and a discipline and a poise, and we showed that better tonight obviously than the first two games. Q. The Lakers turn it over I think like 10 times in the first quarter or something like that, and you guys only lead by three. At that moment did you feel like that was an opportunity there that you didn’t take full advantage of? And then I guess secondly Jimmy’s just physical toughness, the fouls he took late, he was stealing minutes on the ground there trying to, you know. ERIK SPOELSTRA: Nah, he wasn’t. He got hit down there. But he knows how to do that. The answer to your first question, no, like you’re not expecting it to be easy. You have to do whatever is necessary. It’s a 48-minute game for a reason. You have to be able to compete at a high level and there’s a lot of ups and downs during the course of it. I liked it and I really wanted to see how we were going to respond. We have been in those moments in games 1 and 2, they were too fleeting and we didn’t respond that well enough. This is elite competition both ways and we responded to it better tonight. And then in terms of the physicality, this is what Jimmy, why he prepares the way he does that is so uncommon, year-round. Just to be able to take on that physicality, to make those plays, to be able to draw fouls and take contact and get up and be able to make those free throws. I mean he just was, it’s so settling when you have that type of guy in a really competitive game like this. It allows your other guys, and we’re playing young guys, they can just be who they are, they don’t have to worry about too much pressure or context. They can just be who they are when you have somebody like that that takes on all the pressure for them. Q. You had a lot of players you coached over the years who are great, LeBron, D-Wade, Shaq, Alonzo also. Talk about what Jimmy did today, guarding LeBron and taking over the offense on the other end, where would you rank this in some of the best individual performances you’ve seen throughout your coaching career? ERIK SPOELSTRA: First, mubahay salamat po, and secondly out of all due respect, I’m not going to rank it. It’s one win. Jimmy understands this, that it’s going to take whatever is necessary, everything over the top and beyond. This is not about comparing to anybody else in the history, and that’s out of all due respect. It’s about what we’re trying to get accomplished in this locker room. We have a very committed group to this. We have incredible respect for this opponent. We have to figure this out, and if we’re not on top of our game we saw what it can look like in the previous two games. But this is why we pursued Jimmy so aggressively. We just felt, on all across the board, there was an alignment, that we’re sharing the same competitive values for right or wrong and we don’t — it doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks. We’re aligned on that and you’re able to build a culture from that and develop a team around him. Q. Even the greatest players in the history of sports sometimes come up short when their team needs them the most, the way you needed Jimmy in this game tonight. What is it about Jimmy that makes him able to produce his greatest game ever in his most desperate game ever? ERIK SPOELSTRA: Oh I think there’s a lot of genuine care and love in this locker room. Guys really want to do this for each other. Our hearts are broken, you know, about Goran and Bam missing these games because there’s sincere love for them. Jimmy takes that to heart. Guys know that they have to do more until or if those guys come back. But this is what competition’s all about. You have to raise your game and like I said many times, you just can’t put an analytic or a number or an evaluation to Jimmy Butler in the conventional way. He is an elite top-percentile competitor, and this is top-percentile competition that we’re facing and it’s bringing out a different level. Q. When you know that Jimmy’s going to play 40-plus-minutes and he’s going to defend LeBron, what do you do from a coaching standpoint to buy him time off the floor so he can have a little bit of energy left to draw those fouls and not be completely worn down? ERIK SPOELSTRA: To be honest, we can’t afford that. That’s why he puts in the work that he does. That’s why he does the insane things year round, offseason to put himself in a position like this to be able to handle all of this. No one could have predicted that we would have some of our main guys out and he would have to play 45 minutes a game. But it’s whatever is necessary at this point and he’s willing to take on that responsibility. We were not trying to save him or — I tried to steal him a couple minutes here or there, but we’re way past that now. Q. You said a lot that your defense should be what’s feeding your offense. Can you just describe what Jae Crowder did for you on that defensive end? ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, it’s the hardest challenge of his career right now. He’s facing an MVP-type talent, he can’t do it on his own. There’s going to have to be a five-man defense and anything that I say right now, it’s going to be a whole lot easier said than done. Just have to be a competitor and throw yourself out there, be vulnerable to the competition. He’s our type of guy in terms of competitive spirit. But again, look, it’s one game, we know there will be a response and we have to be ready for that. We’re trying to get something accomplished right here, so we know it’s going to be tough. Q. Their big-to-big passing the first two games really hurt you guys at different spots, so what did you do to try to take some of that away tonight? ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, you know, I don’t know. They’re really good, you know. They’re doing that against our man in the first game, and then they’re doing it against the zone. We tried to bring a better spirit tonight competitively. We are who we are in between those four lines, it was good enough to get this win tonight. But those guys, that’s a great team and great players that you have to take on that challenge. FastScripts by ASAP Sports….