Spoelstra vows to get James back on track offensively

DALLAS Wed Jun 8, 2011 7:49pm EDT

1 of 8. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra listens to a question during a media conference for the NBA Finals basketball series against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Texas June 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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DALLAS (Reuters) - LeBron James would be more involved in the offense when the Heat face the Dallas Mavericks in a critical Game Five of the NBA Finals, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said on Wednesday.

James scored just eight points in Tuesday's 86-83 loss in Dallas, which tied the series 2-2, and the Heat are going to need more out of him on Thursday.

"He will be more aggressive and have more of an attack mentality tomorrow night," Spoelstra said. "He doesn't need to overthink it. He's a great player.

"He's a proven player. He knows how to be aggressive and how to pick his spots. I don't want him to necessarily overthink it. The aggressive mentality will be enough.

"We will do some things to help him, put him in positions to be aggressive."

James is averaging 17 points a game in the finals, credible for most players but below-par for the former scoring champion and two-time league most valuable player.

"Eight points is definitely inexcusable for myself," said James. "I hold myself up to a higher standard than that.

"I had to do a better job of putting myself in situations where I can benefit myself and my team, no matter how many minutes I'm out on the floor."

James has been particularly tentative in the fourth quarter, having scored a total of nine points in four games. He missed his only shot in the final period on Tuesday and was often standing idly on the perimeter, watching the play unfold.

DYNAMIC SCORER

One of the NBA's most dynamic scorers and a go-to guy with the game on the line, James said he was "not in a good rhythm" down the stretch on Tuesday.

"You start aiming shots, you start thinking about plays too much," he said. "You start thinking about the game too much and instead of going out and reading and reacting and playing the game.

"It happens to all of us, where you get to a point where you feel so out of rhythm, you try to impact the game some other way than offensively.

"At the same time I have to make sure I keep myself active, and some way, some how, figure out a way to still be effective even if I'm not bringing the ball up or initiating the offense."

James had nine rebounds and seven assists on Tuesday but his lack of scoring is hurting Miami, especially during the fourth quarter of the tightly contested series.

Dwyane Wade, who has shouldered most of the Heat's scoring burden in the finals, knows that James is going through, having struggled in the Eastern Conference finals against Chicago.

"The game of basketball is so weird," he said.

"One moment you can be on the high, you can be playing unbelievable. The next second you could be feeling like you haven't played basketball in years.

"You just got to stay confident as much as possible."

Wade said James helped him both on and off the court break out of his slump.

"That's the way we've all been all year," said Wade, who scored 32 points on Tuesday. "We've got each other's back. We believe in each other.

"Eventually LeBron is going to do something so great that I believe what he did in Game Four won't even be a topic of conversation."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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