The HEAT again had two only two players in double digits. Another Celtics player did pushups after falling to the ground after a foul. The HEAT were outscored by 10 in the paint. Mario Chalmers drew a technical for almost no reason again in the opening minutes. To look at some of the patterns that have formed as of late in HEAT losses, you could take a few of these statements and write a story of a game 6 loss, and begin the debates on who is getting fired, replaced, traded, etc. for Miami.
Except for the final result, which at the end of the night was all that mattered. The Miami HEAT finally made their statement game in game 6, at the TD Garden “jungle” winning convincingly 98-79 and forcing game 7 in Miami. And HEAT fans are thankful that they will never have to hear that bleeping Dropkick Murphies “I’m Shipping up to Boston” song until next season.
If the C’s house was the jungle ever, LeBron James was the napalm that leveled it last night. What a performance. 45 points on 19-26 shooting knocked out any hopes the Celtics had to hold home court and get to the NBA Finals. 15 rebounds, with each one making the Celtics feel like he was everywhere at once. And believe me, add the dunks, the fall-away trick jumpshots from everywhere, it was a lot worse than that for the C’s. There was a look on James’ face all night that could sit down a grown man and make them want to apologize to him for even being in the same room consuming his oxygen. Defender after defender tried to stop him, Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Pietrus, Allen, everyone but Doc Rivers himself tried and were met with katana-precision death-blows. The performance shushed the obnoxious crowd and sent them packing for their cars with 4 minutes left in the game. Finally, it was the statement game led by the league’s MVP, and it could not have come at a better time.
While he was brought to Miami in the infamous-now “Decision,”, it was another decision Tuesday night that allowed this performance and much needed win game 6 by Erik Spoelstra. Coach Spo was killed in the media and by fans in the previous game 5 loss for over-rotating his players and playing Chris Bosh in limited minutes. In game 6, Spo played Bosh 28 minutes off the bench, but more importantly planned his first check-in while Kevin Garnett was coming out to rest. What this did throughout the night was create the floor spacing needed for LeBron James to do his damage. Bosh ended up with only 7 points during his time on the floor, but the ripple effect while in the game forced Boston to cover him a bit closer and stay a step slower from covering James. It might be argued that this could have been applied game 5 with a similar result, however Bosh is clearly showing his rust from being out. In fairness, the whole team’s responsibility last night was to just-win; what a better time to get the whole game from Bosh when his expectations are no different than the rest of the squad. And look at the result-I credit the HEAT’s victory mostly to LeBron (Captain Obvious here), but know inside that none of it could have happened without Bosh and a great decision by coach Erik Spoelstra.
For the Celtics, who did not hold a lead the entire night since the opening tip and 2-0 score, their legacy may well enough be over at this point. The HEAT’s performance aside from James’ 45 minute-long highlight reel was average, and for the Celtics to drop this game at home may be even more damning than the HEAT’s loss in game 5. The age and mileage clearly showed, Rajon Rondo was the only consistent player on the Celtics doing everything he could to get a response from his men up to and including pushups. They had a HEAT team on their backs and could not close them out. They will not get a better opportunity, and will receive no quarter in game 7 from the HEAT with so much on the line. While LeBron will be ever-present in his scoring and defense, there is still a sleeping giant of 4 bench players plus a relatively-quiet Dwyane Wade that has yet to awake. All signs pointing to the promised land, the NBA Finals and another chance for greatness for LeBron and Company.