Who had the better game?:
Player A: 10-22 FG 0-4 3PT 8-13 FT 9 RB 5 AS 6 ST 0 BLK 2 TO 28 PTs
Player B: 8-22 FG 0-2 3PT 8-10 FT 6 RB 4 AS 1 ST 2 BLK 3 TO 24 PTs
Player A shot more efficiently overall, rebounded more, had more assists, more steals, less turnovers and more points. The only area that Player B did better is in free throw efficiency and blocks. So I think it's fairly clear that Player A played better than Player B. Given that, who would you say deserves more blame for the team losing the game?
Before we answer that, let's stipulate that Player A is Lebron and B is Dwayne Wade. And Lebron missed two free throws very late in the game that would have possibly won the game. I don't know how of a site that does win probability added for the NBA like Advanced NFL Stats does. But even with the missed free throws I can't imagine Lebron should get much more blame than Wade. Actually, I"m not sure either should get much blame. They both played pretty well. No one else on the team shot above 50% overall aside from Cole who was 2-2 and Shane Battier who was 1-2. Chalmers was 2-10.
So I'd say the rest of the team not performing very well is a bigger reason the team lost than Lebron's inability to make his free throws late in the game. Yet people are, again, grilling Lebron and largely blaming him for the loss. Those two free throws on their own didn't decide the game. But the media and fans consistently overstate the importance of these situations late in games. The fact is, everything that happened in the 3 quarters before those free throws mattered. If Lebron or Wade had played worse than they did up to that point Lebron wouldn't have had the opportunity to win it with the free throws. And while Lebron is the best player in the league, people have unreasonable expectations for him. Wade has to play better too. The rest of the team really has to play better than they do. So stop putting so much on Lebron. More often than not he plays better than every other player in the game and does enough for his team to win.