SAN ANTONIO -- ABC announcer and Hall of Fame guard Magic Johnson said off the air Wednesday he is “shocked by the way” LeBron James played in Game 3 of the NBA Finals and implored him to stop deferring as much to teammates.
Johnson also said that regardless of the results of these Finals, the Heat needs to change its roster.
“No matter what happens, things have to change with this team,” Johnson said on a conference call. “Everyone has caught up to them. Teams are not afraid of them. They have adjusted to the Big 3.”
Asked how losing the Finals would hurt James’ legacy, Johnson said: “It may take a little hit, but I don’t think much. What I think you may see is the end of the Big 3.”
But the dismantling of the Big 3 this offseason would seem unlikely. Though James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can exercise opt-out clauses in the summer of 2014, Bosh has said he wants to spend the rest of his career here and Wade’s affinity for South Florida and the Heat is well-established.
The Heat also believes James is happy here.
As for James’ play in this series, Johnson said he “has to score points. He’s still trying to get everybody involved. That can’t be his game plan. Dwyane Wade is what he is now. You know he can’t give you 25, 30 points. … Chris Bosh is great player but not a dominant force. … You are a dominant force! He should know that when you come on the road, you can’t expect Mario Chalmers to score 19 points. …
“He has to take a more assertive role as far as scoring, especially in the [first half]. I want him to be more like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan than like me. This is the worst team Miami could play — they play so well together.”
James shot 2 for 14 outside the paint in Game 3 and is 7 for 30 on those shots (23.3 percent) in this series. Should James keep taking those shots or should he try to force the issue against a Spurs defense that is determined not to allow him to penetrate?
“You’ve got to do a combination,” Johnson said, emphasizing the need for James to get out in transition. “On the half-court side, he knows guys are sliding over. He can’t go all the way to the basket. Pull up for a five-, eight-, 10-footer. Hit that midrange shot.”
The Heat was outscored by 32 points with James in the game Tuesday, the worst plus/minus of his career. What’s more, he had no free-throw attempts for the first time in a game since December 2009.
This and that
• Ray Allen said the responsibility of fixing the problems that plagued the Heat in Game 3 extend beyond the players.
“Our coaches have to do a better job of getting D-Wade more involved, getting C.B. more involved,” he said. “ Mike Miller had a great game, but we didn’t really look for him down the stretch.”
• After scoring 22 points combined in the first half of the past two games, Wade has managed just four combined in the past two second halves, on 2-for-11 shooting, including 2 for 8 in Game 3.
“I got some shots in the second half that I liked — I just missed them,” he said. “Second half, we all need to be better.”
Asked if there’s a correlation between his knee injury and second-half production, Wade said: “If it is, I won’t tell you.”
• Chalmers said there was “dead silence” among Heat players during Wednesday’s 60-minute review of the Game 3 film. What was clear in the film, Bosh said, is “we didn’t give the effort we needed to give. It’s really embarrassing to be a part of.”
• The Big 3 combined to average 64.6 points per game during the regular season. They’re averaging 43.3 in this series.
• The Heat has won 11 games in a row after losses, by an average margin of 19.7 points. And Miami has followed its five previous playoff losses with wins by margins of 37, 18, 11, 23 and 19.
• The Heat’s 36-point drubbing not only was its most lopsided loss in the Big 3 era, but also the third-worst loss in NBA Finals history.