As NBA Finals approach, no shortage of motivation for LeBron
JUN 03, 2014 7:45p ET
That attitude perfectly suits the Heat organization, which is expecting James to lead the franchise to a third straight NBA championship, a quest that enters the final stage with Thursday's best-of-seven series opener against the San Antonio Spurs.
James said he didn't require the All-Defense snub to fire him up.
''I have enough motivation,'' he said. ''I will explode if I have any more motivation.''
James will likely be matched up against San Antonio small forward Kawhi Leonard, who was also named second-team All-Defense.
''I've been going against young, athletic guys a lot in the postseason,'' James said. ''I went up against Paul George. And now Kawhi is another guy who is long, athletic, uses his hands, long arms ...
''Paul George gave me a good test to go up against Kawhi.''
James, 28, is 6-8 and 250 pounds, substantially bigger than his expected counterpart in the Spurs series -- Leonard, 22, is 6-7 and 230 pounds.
''I love the defensive side of the floor just as much as the offense,'' James said. ''As locked in as he is going to be on me, I'm going to be just as locked in on him defensively. I look forward to the matchup.''
Individual matchups are expected to fluctuate in this series -- after all, James last year covered Spurs point guard Tony Parker.
Unlike the James-Leonard battle, this time the physicality edge goes to San Antonio and Duncan, who is a load in the low blocks even at age 38.
''We don't want him catching the ball close to the basket,'' said Bosh, 30. ''He's too good down in the post. So we just want to push him out a little further. And then it's still going to be difficult after that.
''Guard the ball on screen and rolls, and, on offense, just be live as much as possible -- give him something to think about. Pick and choose my spots where I can shoot a couple of jumpers and drive to the basket, be aggressive.''
In an NBA Finals with a combined total of seven players who are 34 or older, Duncan ties Ray Allen as the oldest. And Duncan is still going strong.
His ability to score inside and make the Heat pay for playing ''small'' will be a key for the Spurs if they are to dethrone the Heat, the two-time league champions.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra declined on Tuesday to say whether he will start small forward Rashard Lewis. There was also no certainty on whether power forward Chris ''Birdman'' Andersen will be ready to go after struggling with a bruised leg.
But regardless of which role player is on the court with Heat stars James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Spoelstra said the focus remains the same, especially against a team like San Antonio that wants to get post points with Duncan as opposed to Miami's spread-the-court approach.
''Can you impose your identity?'' Spoelstra said. ''It always gets back to that.''