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Celtics unable to capitalize on momentum, Miami Heat force Game 7

Jun 8, 2012, 12:03 AM EDT

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics had an excellent opportunity to close out the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night, setting up a meeting with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals. LeBron James would not allow that to happen, however, and the Heat cruised to an easy 98-79 victory en route to forcing a Game 7 back in Miami on Saturday.

It was an epic performance considering the circumstances for James — maybe not unlike Rajon Rondo‘s heroic performance earlier in the series. But this game was a bit more important considering the Celtics would have been on their way to the NBA finals with a win. Miami fans wouldn’t have to fret, however, as James put the Heat on his back  to give Miami all of the momentum.

In a game that would likely feature LeBron-led headlines regardless of the outcome, James was simply the star he’s supposed to be as he finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. The most interesting part about King James’ performance was his array of offensive execution as he found several different ways to obliterate the Celtics offense while they attempted to adjust their defensive assignments (Brandon Bass seemed to do the best, but that was only until James started moving without the ball — and faster than Bass, to boot). It was an excellent, clutch performance when the Heat needed it most and, luckily for the Heat, it seemed to rub off on his teammates.

Considering James’ performance, it’d be pretty easy to look at the box score and assume the rest of the team was ineffective. Instead, though, Miami only allowed James to do his thing until Boston forced them to do something different. And, when they needed to do something different, Dwyane Wade was effective, Shane Battier knocked down his jumpers and Mario Chalmers played his role well while knocking down three of his four 3-point attempts.

It’s hard to say exactly what went wrong for Boston on Thursday night, but it’s probably safe to assume the “veteran presence” that has been praised as one of the positives for this team was turned into a negative as they simply looked old, slow and … after giving up 30 points to James in the first half, absolutely bewildered. A couple of the key factors easily found in the box score, though, would be that the Celtics made just 1-of-14 3-point attempts while losing the rebound battle by a 10-board margin.

Rajon Rondo was the team’s leading scorer with 21 points, but his 10 assists were essentially canceled out with seven turnovers. And Kevin Garnett came back to earth with 12 points and a disappointing five rebounds. Neither was as lackluster as Paul Pierce, though, as he struggled on both ends: “The Truth” was the primary defender early on LeBron, allowing him to get into a rhythm, and couldn’t answer on the other end, mustering up just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting. Bass was probably the best Celtics starter with 12 points, seven rebounds and the best defensive effort on James, but the Boston offense simply wasn’t working well enough to make anything effective happen.

It seems like Boston’s had the sort of problem they did Thursday night — stagnant offense, questions of them being too old, a struggling star — at least once in each series thus far in the playoffs (and every so often during the regular season, too). It’s yet to seriously hamper them thus far, though, considering they’re still just one win away from reaching the NBA finals … and will have another chance to close out the series on Saturday night.

It’s going to be tough for the Celtics to rebound on the road following the Game 6 disaster, but resiliency is key for tough teams. Unfortunately, regardless of resiliency, Boston also needs to find an answer for the now-clutch King James.

  1. angulocarlos1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    Look at some of the comments I grabbed off the espn comments

    “the ref’s gave this game away”

    “Wade is still batman”

    “Lebron is OVERRATED! No rings!”

    “Lebron is a choke artist, you’ll see in game 7″

    Cracks me up watching the hate that spews out of people’s mouth. You would think he abused dogs, or cheated on his wife with some girl in colorado, or drove drunk and endangered civilians, or hit his wife. Lebron had an amazing game, period.

    • soflasfinest - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      Bron went HAM. Can’t wait for Saturday night in the AAA, game 7 let’s go!

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    LeBron Ramon James!!!! MFMVP Defined.

    11

  3. gopokes0714 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Thumbs Up = KD
    Thumbs Down = LBJ

    All day today the sports talk has been about who is better. I dont care who is better. It is like asking to you want to win $100 million in the Power ball Lottery or $100 million Mega Millions.

    What I want to know who would you rather have on your team. So Thumbs Up for KD or Thumbs Down for LBJ.

    IMO I want KD. I feel like tonight’s performance by King James was more about proving he is the MVP and less about the Heat and the Championship. And I didn’t like the whole scowl on his face the whole game. IT seemed like an act. I dunno, just my opinion

    • soflasfinest - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:18 AM

      Dude shut up. Who cares? Lebron had an amazing game. Why are you bringing up KD right now? Enjoy that amazing performance you saw tonight then sit there quietly.

      • gopokes0714 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:20 AM

        Im confused, do I do as you say, or do as you do?

    • turnmymicup - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:54 AM

      The game was about proving he was the MVP? Idiot he is the MVP! What more is there to prove? Im sure LeBron is way past that already. His mind is on the championship no doubt. Fans like you criticise him for every single thing he does. Then when you run out of things to say we see dumb posts like these. LeBron just had one of the best performances in NBA PLAYOFF HISTORY. Kobe, Durant, or Rose have a game like this we hear how they are the best ever. LeBron does it and here come people trying to take his shine. Makes me sick it really does. As for the “scowl” on LeBron’s face all night I loved it. No smiles, no laughs, and no way to stop to him. Nothing personal its strictly business. Go Heat!

      • lucky5934 - Jun 8, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Congrata to LBJ for FINALLY playing up to his potential. But before you Lebron fans get all high and mighty over a one game performance, let’s see if he can actually win a championship before we agree on how amazing he is. Remember, the Heat were supposed to beat Boston. They made the finals last year. The Heat were expected to play this well from the beginning. To praise them for living up to their potential is a bit excessive.

  4. gopokes0714 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Thumbs Up = KD
    Thumbs Down = LBJ

    All day today the sports talk has been about who is better. I dont care who is better. It is like asking to you want to win $100 million in the Power ball Lottery or $100 million Mega Millions.

    What I want to know who would you rather have on your team. So Thumbs Up for KD or Thumbs Down for LBJ.

    • caseybojangles - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:48 AM

      post this again…all comments are *most* effective if done at least 3 times.

  5. drunkenjunk - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    “The way I see it… we’ve only just begun.”
    Happy Gilmore

    Go Celtics.

  6. bozosforall - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    For the crybaby Boston fans always saying that the refs give all of the calls to the Heat…the Heat had more fouls called on them tonight yet won by nearly 20 points. Keep on crying, losers.

    • gopokes0714 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:19 AM

      You are a wonderful ambassador for the Heat

      • bozosforall - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:43 PM

        Not really. Your Thunder will still win it all.

    • duane888 - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      First quarter i thought the ref’s were gonna go back to calling crazy fouls. But this time they let the players just play and only called obvious fouls.

      If they’re upset about Pierce’s 3 early fouls, too bad, cuz he couldn’t and can’t cover Lebron.

      • turnmymicup - Jun 8, 2012 at 2:16 AM

        Thats Celtics biggest problem right now. Pierce cant check LeBron the way Boston needs him too. Peitrus comes off the bench but that only makes things worse. When LeBron is attacking the rim like that there is nothing Boston can do.

    • thetruth1313 - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:15 AM

      Hey B*tch Boy! Crybaby Boston fans huh?

      Contrary to your idiotic beliefs- Celtics fans are very proud of their team (maybe you missed the Lets Go Celtics chant at the end last night). The team will head down to Miami and play with heart, unlike what your Lakers do. You said once no one on the Celtics gets more than 3 assists in a game other than Rondo. Didnt the last game Kobe played in, didnt he have 40+ points with ZERO assists? Can you clarify that for me? And guess what? Even if the Celtics do lose, we still love our team. They win great and if they lose, well the sun still rises the next day.

      So- on that note. Dont you have something to do today. You know, hit refresh on PFT, PBT, PHT, and all the other sites waiting for the next Boston Sports story so you can post yet another assenine comment or is it, you wont have anything else to say and you will resort to how awesome the Yankees are for the last 100 years even if we are discussing a different sport.

      • bozosforall - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:42 PM

        You are the biggest Puh C in Boston, onetooth1313. Without a doubt. Your team lost. And in a year or so, the fans will be gone in droves.

      • thetruth1313 - Jun 11, 2012 at 7:08 AM

        First- I am not in Boston
        Second- I thought you dont comment on the weekends cause you have a life
        Third- Anyone can be a tough guy behind a computer monitor.

        Good Try, Good Effort!

  7. p1nch3dloaf - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    Septics laid an egg…don’t think a miracle would help them, short of LeMuch breaking a leg…Saturday looks to be more of the same.

    Geritol squad had a good run.

  8. rickyspanish - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    gopokes0714

    Who cares?

    • gopokes0714 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      obviously I do.

      • angulocarlos1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:29 AM

        too bad most pick LBJ, truth is you plug Lebron into OKC’s roster and subtract Durant, you got yourself a instant dynasty. IMO I pick lebron, because at times I debate who’s the better player on OKC durant or westbrook.

      • gopokes0714 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:34 AM

        First thank you for the rational comment

        I dont know if OKC could have come up any faster than they did, so It would be hard to say if they would be better with LBJ.

        Also the same could be said with the Heat with James and Wade. Didn’t Wade have a 40 point game this year? ( I am not sure, but I think I remember that)

      • caseybojangles - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:06 AM

        youre stupid right???

        Pts/boards/assists/steals/blocks/FG%/3P%

        Reg seg
        LBJ = 27/8/6/2/1/.531/.362
        KD = 28/8/3.5/1/1/.496/.387

        Playoffs
        LBJ = 30/9/5/2/1/.496/.267 <–not including Game 6
        KD = 28/8/4/1.5/1/.505/.364

        And LBJ plays on both ends of the court…4th straigth year first team all defensive team. he is the LONE player with 50+ points in the voting for 2012. Three Thunder players got votes in 2012…NONE of them named durant. KD has never received even 1 vote.

        LBJ is the best all around player on the planet today…period.

  9. rallen69 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Lebeon can score 45 on brandon bass!!! This is breaking news! Now lets see if he can do it night in and night out vs people like larry bird, magic johnson, charles barkley like michael jordan did.

    • Kurt Helin - Jun 8, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      If you think Bird/MJ/Magic dropped games like that every night you didn’t watch them.

  10. canehouse - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    One for the ages tonight… Lebron was epic tonight… South Beach, Bayside, Brickell Ave, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Hollywood, Las Olas, Delray, Clematis, and Jupiter will be in a frenzy Saturday night!!! LET’S GO HEAT!!!!!!!!

  11. reddolfan66 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Has anybody seen leChoke?? The Celtics are starting to look like choke artist, remember the finals two years ago up 3-2 and lost, last year beat the heat 3-1 in the regular season lost in the playoffs to the Heat, and then there was this year starting to look like all of the above…LETS GO HEAT!!!

    • drunkenjunk - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:49 AM

      they lost perkins, you remember that part? They lost to the Heat last year after Wade dragged Rondo down and dislocated his elbow. You clearly don’t know a damn thing.

      • bozosforall - Jun 8, 2012 at 2:28 AM

        Lose the excuses, suckinjunk.

      • drunkenjunk - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:58 AM

        yea b/c if Wade or Lebron went down the excuses wouldn’t come out of the floodgates.

      • bozosforall - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:40 PM

        Excuses get you nowhere, fool

      • turnmymicup - Jun 8, 2012 at 2:50 AM

        How about you try not to use injuries as an excuse. So effing lame. Bosh just came off injury and has been out since Game 1 against the Pacers. So if you want to go there we can.

      • j0esixpack - Jun 8, 2012 at 6:27 AM

        That’s our bozo. Nowhere to be found when the Celtics win. Yet he’s posting at 2:30am when they lose.

        By the way, for those who don’t have as well developed a sense of humor as bozo, changing someone’s name to imply he is gay is considered funny in bozo’s school. He also likes making fun of “retards” and proceeds to question the class and caliber of other fans.

      • drunkenjunk - Jun 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        who’s his team?

      • j0esixpack - Jun 10, 2012 at 1:01 AM

        The Lakers I think… But I think they have asked him not to admit it as they are rightfully ashamed of him.

      • drunkenjunk - Jun 11, 2012 at 5:01 PM

        lol, he has shamed the once great laker nation

  12. mungman69 - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Celtics looked old, old, old. Series ain’t over. Celtics look done. Only one days rest? Celtics better get young fast and Rondo better score 55.

  13. nepo784 - Jun 8, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    Celtics are front runners #OKC-MIA FINALS

  14. runtmc - Jun 8, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    LBJ had a great game, but I wish the Celtics took a little pride in their home court & stopped letting him waltz down the lane untouched. I’m not saying they should hurt the guy, but they should have put him on the deck a few times & made him think twice about driving. Would the Knicks, Celtics or Pistons have let Jordan go untouched?

  15. diamondmo33 - Jun 8, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    Like I said,lebron was going to prove why he was voted MVP… Heat in 7.

  16. mungman69 - Jun 8, 2012 at 6:29 AM

    Man, Boston just looked old and the Heat made them pay. Can the Celtics recover in 48 hours? I dunno.

  17. gmsingh - Jun 8, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    “The now clutch King James”? Really? If LeBron has to score 40 to 50 points every time the Heat want to win a game best of luck with that.

  18. truthhurtstoo - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    The old creakers showed their true self… Har!

  19. drunkenjunk - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    @turnmycup

    Avery bradley is still out on the Celtics and he’s just as important as Bosh.

  20. reddolfan66 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    I think they should call the Celtics the Boston Crybabies !!! Still coming up with excuses…

  21. reddolfan66 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Bradley is nowhere near Bosh’s level loser stop looking for excuses!!

  22. paulhargis53 - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Turnmy:
    I’m not blaming injuries whatsoever, but by all means, let’s “go there”.
    Heat? Bosh for a few games.
    Celtics?
    Wilcox- out for year
    Green- out for year- both with heart ailments.
    J. O’Neal.
    Avery Bradley
    Also, Pierce and Allen are playing through injuries.
    The Celts are doing quite nicely.
    Bron had a phenomanal game, congrats on the win.
    He isn’t going off like that again though.
    It was a perfect storm last night.
    He was on fire, the Celts couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, that isn’t happening again either.
    Enjoy your win. Celtics take game 7. Count on it.

  23. scalfor3 - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    two things people are missing:

    1: all of a sudden its a massive disappointment boston didnt win. that would’ve been 4 wins in a row in a closely matched series. they were due for a letdown. they played uncharacteristically sloppy (way too many turnovers) and missed a lot of looks they normally make.

    2: as awesome as lebron played, game 6 wasnt a recipe for continued success. its a testament to how damn good lebron is that he can even have a game like that, but its doubtful he can duplicate that performance. the strategy of everyone else standing around watching lebron shoot contested fade-aways only works if lebron has a night like that.

    my point is simply that game 7 wont be like game 6. i dont know who will win, but it will be a close, hard-fought battle. may the best team win.

    Go C’s

  24. 11jlacy - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Sick performance by L B I wasnt ready for that frm ya boy real talk.

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