Obviously with my interest in the Pacers and Heat series, this question came up after game two when the Heat had a shot to tie the game at the end. They were down three points, and went for a Mario Chalmers three at the end to tie the game. Many people were questioning, why isn’t Lebron or Wade taking that end of the game shot? So therefore, let’s take a look at who is the better closer.
In case you’re not sure what I mean by a closer in basketball since it’s a baseball term where a pitcher comes in to close out the game. In basketball, this is the guy you want the ball in their hands at the end of a game to put away or win the game for you. If you want historical closers, see Michael Jordan. See Larry Bird. Those guys that got the ball in their hands at the end.
I think in today’s NBA, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Dirk Nowitzki are the three names right away that come to mind. They’re all great at making those shots to put away a team or the ones that look to score to win the game. You could also throw Carmelo Anthony in this list as he’s had some game winners in his career.
But for now, let’s focus on the two guys that Miami has that can put away the game. This is where the debate comes that who should take those last shots in the waning moments of a game for the Heat. I don’t think you can go wrong with either guy, but we’ll break it down anyways.
I think Wade can get a pass in this situation because he’s got a championship and he was the reason that Miami won that series in 2006. Sure you can say he had Shaquille O’Neal. But this was the Shaq of 2006 and not the Shaq of 97-2001, probably where he was most dominant and in his prime. Wade had to really put the team on his back. I think also you can look at body language more so than stats, and Wade always looks like he wants the ball in that situation.
This is where people still think Lebron needs to be stronger. Sure he’s had some game winners and he’s taken a team to the finish line. But I don’t think critics will let up until he hits a game winner for the NBA championship. Or some big game along the way for that. I look at a situation against the Pacers, I believe game two, and it was late in the game, and Lebron threw this baseball pass across court when he was wide open for a shot that could have tied the game. Now that’s not exactly the way you want to prove that you’re a closer. You want to take that shot hit or miss, and take the lumps if you miss. Lebron is going to take more of a hit if he doesn’t even attempt that shot, like after game two when he didn’t even have the ball in his hands.
Like I said before, either way can be the closer when they want to be. We’ve seen Lebron do it in Cleveland and even do it here for the Heat. I think Wade is more of the face for this franchise, so putting the ball in his hands at the end of a game is smart as well. But it doesn’t help when people want Lebron taking that shot at the end. In a way, it’s a good problem to have with both guys able to do the job. But ultimately, I’m going with Wade as the better closer since he’s proved it with a championship. Once Lebron earns his championship, if he does, then some of that doubt whether he’s a true closer should go away.