Friday, June 8, 2012
LeBron James' Game For The Ages (45 pts, 15 rebs) Carries The Heat To Game 7
Sometimes, even in the playoffs in a game that couldn't hold much more meaning, you simply don't have it. Tonight, the Boston Celtics entered that pathetic realm with an all-time stinkbomb in NBA history.
LeBron James scored 45 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had five assists (first player to do that since Wilt) as the Miami Heat took it to the Boston Celtics from start to finish, for an easy 98-79 victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.
Just like David Stern scripted it (for ratings, duh), this series will be decided on Saturday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN) back in Miami thanks to LeBron's otherworldly performance which included 19 for 26 shooting from the field.
There really isn't that much to review (at least from my perspective) since this was dominated by the Heat, well more specifically LeBron, the entire way. Boston was down 55-42 at halftime and all they could do was trim it to 10 points early in the third quarter before another barrage of shots were too much for them to take.
On the one hand, it was shocking that the C's could be so flat when they had worked so hard (three straight wins including Game 5 in Miami) to wrestle home-court away from the Heat and rally from a 2-0 deficit in the series. Then again, as I've said 20 million times since the Big 4 were created: they always choose the more difficult way of doing things. Whether that means beating Atlanta in six games or Philadelphia in seven games. Obviously, unlike those earlier rounds they will be major underdogs and on the road but I have a feeling that Game 7 won't resemble this forgettable blowout in any way shape or form.
Dwyane Wade (17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) was Miami's only other player to score in double figures. Mario Chalmers had nine points, Shane Battier scored eight and Chris Bosh put up seven points and six rebounds off the bench in 28 minutes (double his time in Game 5).
Rajon Rondo (21 points, 10 assists, 3 steals) was the only Celtic to show up. Kevin Garnett (12 points), Ray Allen (10 points) and Paul Pierce (9 points, 4 of 18 shooting) all played like they were 60-years-old after they had turned back the clock for the past month and a half. Brandon Bass had 12 points and seven rebounds while Marquis Daniels put up eight points in garbage time showing that perhaps he deserves more run in Game 7 over Mickael Pietrus.
The numbers are too brutal to spew out but there are two things which signify that this game was an anomaly after the C's scored 93+ in Games 2-5: Boston had 10 more fast break points (15-5) and 10 more points in the paint (42-32). As long as LeBron doesn't shoot 73% from the floor again, I like the Celtics' chances. I'm not saying they're going to win but this being the last hurrah and the fact that they were so humiliated tonight on their home court means that they should give it their absolute best shot.
Empty the tank, hold nothing back, balls to the wall on Saturday night. Once again, everybody will pick the Heat which can only be a good thing. All the pressure will be on them and if Boston can make it a tight game with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line, we'll see if LeBron is draining impossible shots that he normally bricks (except for tonight). The Celtics have already proved that they can win in Miami and there is zero chance that the Big 4 will all collectively play that bad again in a game that means everything.
PS. I'm a sucker for a good moment and I thought it was awesome near the end of the game when the remaining die-hard members of the crowd gave the C's a nice "Let's Go Celtics" chant. Great stuff that shows why Boston is such a great sports city, by and large our fans get it more than any other place in the US.