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“Fearless” LeBron carries Heat, but he’ll have to do it again

Jun 8, 2012, 12:18 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Six Getty Images

Sometimes it’s good to have the best player on the planet on your team.

LeBron James made Boston Garden his own personal playground for Game 6 — 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. It was as dominant a performance as he has given in the playoffs. He set the tone from the opening moments and pushed the Heat into a Game 7 with a 98-79 win.

“He was absolutely fearless tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in a televised press conference after the game. “And it was contagious.”

Now, he just has to do it again.

The problem for Miami is that to win with this roster they need exceptional games from James and/or Dwyane Wade. Not good, they got that in Game 5 and lost. They need exceptional, heroic efforts. That’s the only way they can score enough. It’s the only way they have been able to win — it was that way against the Pacers in the previous round, it is the same now. It’s what LeBron faced in Cleveland, for that matter.

So, can he do it again?

“I don’t know,” LeBron said with a shrug after the game. “I will tell you every game is its own (thing). I will continue to try to be aggressive. I will continue to try to play at a high level like I have done this whole postseason.”

LeBron took control of Game 6 from the opening tip, shooting 6-for-7 for 14 points in the first quarter, pushing the Heat to a 16-point lead. It didn’t stop, he got hotter in the second quarter and had 30 points by the half.

LeBron had a real lift in his shot — he was taking a lot of jump shots and fadeaways — but because of the spring in his step he was elevating over defenders and there were some pretty good looks. There were also contested, difficult shots. Didn’t matter. They all went in.

With the jumper falling, everything opened up. LeBron blew past guys off the dribble to get into the lane. He would pump fake and the Celtics defenders would bite, then LeBron leaned in and drew the foul. When the Celtics went zone, he cut to the middle of the paint, caught the pass and hit the turnaround. Boston went to Brandon Bass to be more physical in the second half, so LeBron started moving without the ball and left Bass in his dust. LeBron scored pretty much any way he pleased.

“I hope now you guys can stop talking about LeBron and how he doesn’t play in big games,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “He was pretty good tonight. Now that’s to bed.”

But that meme is not dead, not with a lot of fans who love to hate LeBron following the graceless way he left Cleveland for Miami. If Miami falls short at home in Game 7, for whatever reason, it will be LeBron’s fault. And for the Heat to win, he will need another monster game.

And this kind of game may not be sustainable. LeBron knocked down eight shots from the midrange, and that is hard to sustain. LeBron did a lot of damage in the halfcourt; he did it without many easy transition buckets. That’s not usually his game.

LeBron’s 45/15/5 was better than Boston’s entire Big Three (31 points, 13 rebounds, two assists). And the only way the Heat can beat Boston in Game 7 and return to the finals is another game like that from LeBron. Again, only he and Wade (17 points) scored in double figures. Miami can only win when one or both of them go off.

It is the sad reality for LeBron now, fair or not — Thursday night he was dynamic and incredible, but he’ll have to do it again Saturday to reach his goal. There would not be a Game 7 without LeBron. But unless he steps up again, perceptions will not change.

142 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. mungman69 - Jun 8, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Miami played great defense and Boston came out flat. Boston came out flat in game 6? These are the great veteran Celtics who were going to shut down the Heat at home? Give credit where credit is due. Labron and the Heat killed the Celtics. Great defense. The Celtics can do push ups but that didn’t fire them up. The Celtics just looked old and I was surprised at that. Might be a great game 7. We will see what each team is made of.

    • knightrider1755 - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:12 AM

      Fill up Boston’s Gatorade bottles with Geritol and get ready to watch Ray Allen resurge into the Ray Allen of old. lol.

  2. emaimo80 - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    All you people who actually dislike/hate lebron ask yourself: Has he showed up in any police reports ? Has he cheated on his fiancée ? Has he left his children stranded in the pick-up circle at school? Has he refused to speak to reporters after a single game this season? Has he called out his teammates for their poor play, as Kobe Bryant did twice this postseason? Has he gotten his coach fired? Been fined for criticizing refs? Asked to be traded, released or named general manager?Has he punched anybody? Choked anybody? Screamed at any parking valets? (Mom doesn’t count.) Smashed a chair? Drop-kicked any equipment? Tiger Woods does that on the front nine.

    • anythingbutyanks - Jun 8, 2012 at 8:10 AM

      Way to steal the Simmons article without citation.

      • anythingbutyanks - Jun 8, 2012 at 8:12 AM

        Ah, bad memory/lack of sleep. Rick Reilly’s article. Either way, if you are going to steal a whole paragraph straight up, let us know it isn’t your original idea.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 8, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      lol good job stealing others words to get thumbs up.

      And to answer “your” questions, no he hasnt, because deep down even those who hate LBJ know he is a good person. Extremely arrogant? Yes (Decision, photographer went on record and said LBJ would not talk to anyone directly, 8 ring gurantee, not shaking hands after playoff losses early on). But a bad person? No.

      Even with the Decision, Lebron made money off of it, but he also donated money to the Boys & Girls Club. He also hosts a charity event every year that gives bikes to kids in CLE. And from all accounts hes a great father and teammate. Classy stuff.

      But that doesnt mean people cant still dislike the “King”. You dont have to be a criminal or bad person for people to root against you. Its ok to dislike Lebron because you felt like he took the easy way out, or because he is arrogant, or because he is ridiculously good (and doesnt play for your team).

  3. truthhurtstoo - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    I’m just surprised that the ole’ creakers won 3 games at all! Don’t these games end past their bedtime?

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

      cheap shot – proud of yourself?

    • scalfor3 - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      the celtics are old? who knew?!?

  4. mikejd12 - Jun 8, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Yup! Doesn’t get anymore clutch then that………. The problem I have is you can’t expect that all the time. Someone else has to step up!

  5. hscdaw - Jun 8, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    LBJ’s performance was clutch, but all will be forgotten if the Heat lose game 7. The frustrating thing for Heat fans (not including myself) is that LeBron should have much more of these performances. The Heat front office should relaize this is his team and move D-Wade for more complimentary pieces.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Yea like Averaging 30 pts in the playoffs? The man is human you know.

      Yea lets break up at team that has gotten you to the Finals, and atleast and ECF in 2 years.

      Dont quit your day job……

      • drewzducks - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        I have no idea where the Lebron hate is coming from. As a Celts fan I’ve been watching this guy do the same thing for 5+ years. Seriously 30+ points and 50% shooting and completely carrying that team in an elimination game? Haven’t seen a one man show in the playoffs like that since MJ went for 63 against the C’s in 86…difference was the C’s still won that one. If Wade played to half of his salary this would’ve been over in 5.

    • mikejd12 - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      More performances like this lol, the guy shot 73 percent from the field. And wilt chamberlin was the only other player in the history of the playoffs to do that. You cant expects much more of these. 2 players in the history of basketball did this. How can someone say he should have much more like this……..What is he god!…….. come on man. Hes human!

  6. 1historian - Jun 8, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    I didn’t watch the game but from all reports LBJ couldn’t have been better and the Celts couldn’t have been worse.

    All along this has been the (old) Celts’ experience, cool, and teamwork, especially when the pressure is on, against the Heats’ pure talent. You can;t get any younger but if the Heat can keepit together when the pressure is on, and the pressure

  7. 1historian - Jun 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    I didn’t watch the game but from all reports LBJ couldn’t have been better and the Celts couldn’t have been worse.

    All along this has been the (old) Celts’ experience, cool, and teamwork, especially when the pressure is on, against the Heats’ pure talent. You can’t get any younger but if the Heat can keep it together when the pressure is on, and the pressure WILL be on, they should win the game.

    Unfortunately

    To see the Heat v. the Thunder in the finals might be worth turning on the TV.

  8. eagles512 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    That’s what happens when people start talking about the offseason and next year about a team when the series was 3-2. Here, they acted like it was 3-0. Talk about over analyzing.

  9. runtmc - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    “fearless”??? What’d LBJ have to be fearful of? He never received a hard foul or really any disincentive to driving to the lane. What’s classified as a flagrant 1 or 2 was just business as usual for Jordan, he knew those hits were coming & yet he’d still drive. That’s being fearless.

  10. blakspartan - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Finally Lebron has played the way everyone wanted to, going to the paint, drawing fouls, 6’8 270 with his speed, only thing the defense can do is foul, but he needs to make his free throws, but overall good game, he should play each game as though they are from behind, I don’t care if Miami is up by 25, they should run it down Boston throat next game

  11. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Where are the Boston fans that criticized Miami fans for leaving games early?… I saw Boston fans doing the same thing last night with plenty of time left…. Of course they have nothing to say now!

    • drewzducks - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      They must have got that idea of cheering and chanting “Celtics” for the last minutes from those loyal Heat fans.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      To their defense, the “Lets Go Celtics” chant was great. Not many other fanbases would have stuck around, let alone cheer on their team down by 20+.

      Pretty cool…

      • michflaguy - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM

        It was more of a goodbye wave…’cause that’s the last time they will be seeing that group of players in Celtic uniforms. Something has to change in Boston…and the ‘3 old guys’ are the place to start.

      • electstat - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        No doubt LeBron had his game of games, but let’s not discount the WIDE OPEN, uncontested shots the Celtics were missing. I couldn’t believe the missed layups, jumpshots inside the paint, and wide open 3’s they were missing. Last night the Bobcats could have beaten the Celts. If Miami is going to win this series, their defense has got to step up and not rely on uncontested missed shots. LeBron was the only player playing.

    • buddyleefarnsworth - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Got one right here. See you call out all Boston fans for not showing up after a loss. I’m here. Yes we got outplayed, and lost. Huge props to LBJ and the Heat.

      My question is, where were you on Wednesday? You call us Boston fans out all the time, but when Boston wins, you disappear.

  12. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    What’s the excuse for last night Celtic fans? Refs? Conspiracies? I’ve been looking forward to your excuses since the 3rd quarter last night.

    • infectorman - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      Gee Rodge?
      Where were you after game 5? Silent and M.I.A. in Miami.

      No excuses, Celts got their A$$es kicked – by 1 guy. Happy?
      More than you did after your crew lost on their own floor in game 5….

      Still looks an awful lot like Lebron and a bunch of guys out there. Not sure how far that’ll take them, but hey, it worked last nite.

      Congrats to the MVP, truly a performance for the ages….
      The Garden rims seem to melt away for him, maybe he could come join Rondo!

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:36 AM

        Why would you want a choker on your team?

  13. runtmc - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    LBJ is good & had a good game, but he hasn’t proven anything yet.

  14. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    @infectorman

    I comment after wins and losses. Check the posts. I love how haters cling on the the excuses. First refs, then conspiracies, when that fails they resort to calling Miami fans bandwagon-fans. Why? All because a 26 year old decided to play in Miami and tell the fans what they wanted to hear. Pathetic haters! You haters need to cleanse yourselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      “All because a 26 year old decided to play in Miami and tell the fans what they wanted to hear.”

      Oh, thats what he did. I thought he told his old teammates/fans on live TV he was leaving in the most disrepectful way possible, THEN had a mini parade and said he was going to win 8 rings (w/out even having his 1st practice in MIA), THEN mocked Dirk being sick by pretend coughing and laughing w/Wade while being filmed b4 a game. All while getting outplayed BAD by Jason Terry in the Finals and looking like he was afraid of the basketball. Silly me.

      Yes, he played AMAZING last night, but dont act like he has given the world plenty of reasons to root against him.

      • slopmcflop - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Confirmation bias.

        You want to hate LeBron, so you’ll continue to find many reasons to do so. That’s your prerogative though, so carry on.

      • gmen4life33 - Jun 8, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        Yea, i really had to dig deep to “find” the Decision, no apology for the Decision until a year after it happend, the 8 ring gurantee, and him mocking Dirk on purpose on National TV.

        It was really hard finding those reasons, I had to do a lot of “digging” and “reaching”.

  15. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Attention Heat fans. Ignore comments from ‘cantonbound13′. He’s a troll who posts negative things on every Heat article seeking attention. So sad! Don’t let that skid-mark ruin our day.

  16. michflaguy - Jun 8, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    One word: Wow!

    LeBron keeps putting in HOF playoff performances, and the haters just keep on hatin’ like the little beeotches they are…and always will be (especially in Boston).

    Too bad for Rondo…the Celtics will lose game 7 in Miami, and then KG, Pierce and Allen will probably retire, and he will be stuck on a rebuilding team.

    Hey Rondo…I know a great team in Miami that *really* needs a point guard. Talk to your agent…Boston is DONE!

    • electstat - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      No doubt LeBron was the man last night. But if I’m Miami, I’m a bit worried that the defense allowed so many uncontested wide open shots. Boston just couldn’t hit a thing last night, including layups. With that said, should be a classic game 7.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 8, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Rondo, along with the other 3 you are already proclaiming as “retired”, have rings. Last I checked, LBJ doesnt. Calm down there buddy. LBJ was amazing last night, and the Cs were horrible, but it starts 0-0 in Game 7. Im not a fan but I know Cs arent going down without a fight.

  17. mikejd12 - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Lebron straight up went into beast mode last night. WHERES DIRTYBIRD????? Mr….. ITS FEEDING TIME, and HES a choke artist. Where you at DIRTYBIRD???? Funny how all the haters hide in there caves when lebron comes through for his team. Having a performance that only one other player in the history of the playoffs has had!! I can feel the hate energy. Haters are already building up there hate for the next round hahahahhah. And the heat havent even one game 7 yet. I dont expect lebron to do this again considering this is an outreagous performance. But i couldnt agree with what doc said get off the guys back. It dosent get anymore clutch then that. In boston his team is facing elimination, where every critic on the planet is against them. Ive listened to all these media idots switch sides about 900 times. Stephen A smith even maned up and addmitted he had no clue what the hell was going on. Lebron delievered in a huge way. My boy!

  18. cantonbound13 - Jun 8, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Now I see why LeBron went to Miami. He has 1 good game out of a few hundred & the fans annoint him as the greatest ever. Dumbest fan base ever!

    • heat256 - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      1 game out of a hundred? So him averaging 30 pints, almost 10 rebs a game plus 5 assists and 2 steals over the course of the 2012 playoffs, let alone the 3 MVPs and what he has done over a stellar 9 year career means nada to you? I don’t think you know basketball at all. You are being contrarian just to be that guy. If you don’t like LeBron for teaming up with Wade and bosh, then say so. But to imply he isn’t a truly great player because the evidence he is is irrefutable, despite what the bobbleheads at ESPN say, then there’s no talking to you. If you truly live in Miami, move. We have reached our quota of stupid fools and you are only taking up space from the ones with any semblance of logical thought.

      • heat256 - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        Correction: Points

  19. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    @1972wasalongtimeago

    LMAO… That was epic. The last line was especially hilarious. You should e-mail that to Dan Gilbert.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Thanks bro. Tomorow night is so freaking huge.

  20. shockexchange - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    (Meek Millz voice) “Haters I’m just doin’ me, you guys should be doin’ ya’ll.” Go ahead and get yours Lebron.

  21. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    @gmen4life33

    I can think of much more disrespectful ways of announcing things. Don’t be so dramatic dude. He did to raise money for a charity. Let me guess, you missed that part while you were crying in front of the mirror asking, “WWWHHHYYYY???!!!!”

    • bougin89 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      I’m not a heat, celtic, or cav fan but to defend “the decision” is pretty pathetic.

  22. joeksnuffy - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    This was one of the greatest playoff performances ever. 45/15/5 on the road in an elimination game in conference finals. Amazing. The problem for Lebron and the Heat is to bring that kind of intensity every night. That’s what the true greats are able to do. Too often, Lebron and Wade feel entitled and mail it in. Sometimes, they seem more concerned about the highlight reel than focusing on the task at hand.

  23. joeksnuffy - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Again, the knock against Lebron isn’t that he can’t put up numbers like this in big games, it’s that he shrinks in really intense moments. There was nothing tense at the end of that game. Lebron will never be considered in Michael’s and Kobe’s league until he takes over late in several close, critical playoff games, which eventually leads to rings.

    • bougin89 - Jun 8, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      couldn’t agree more…Lebron is great but won’t be considered in the GOAT discussions until he can finish off teams in the playoffs which means play well in 4th quarters or overtimes when needed.

    • heat256 - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      As opposed to coming out and single handedly demolishing and demoralizing an entire team and making almost every player who guarded him look completely overmatched? It was either Hollinger or Abbott on ESPN who did a piece on “clutch” shots and the myth behind them. Look it up. Your argument may change after it.

    • ceschatz - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      Are you really that stupid? The whole game was an intense moment, THEY WERE ON THE BRINK OF ELIMINATION! Lebron ended that game in the 3rd quarter. Cant get much more clutch than that. If it comes down to one shot deciding the game, then you didnt do what you were supposed to do the rest of the game.

    • progress2011 - Jun 8, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      I knew there would be someone, attempting to lump kobe in the same breath as MJ.

      1. Because the guy has spent his entire life immitating Jordan ( wagging is tongue and other mannerisms), doesn’t put him in Jordans stratosphere

      2. kobes shooting percentage/ the ability to shoot well is below 50% (actually below 40%) which suggests he just jacks-up a bunch of ill advised shots and often shoots his team out of games. Where as Jordans Shooting percentage remained above 50% during all 6 of his MVP championships.

      3. Jordan has 6 finals MVP’s. kobe has 5 rings but someone else(Shaq) was The Man and won 3 of the finals MVP awards. kobe was his side-kick. Jordan was never nobody’s side-kick. Leaving kobe with only 2.

      4. You can’t lump kobe with MJ if you are just counting rings either. If that’s the case, Robert Horry has 7 rings.

      4. LBJ is a more complete player than kobe, ever was (esp since kobe is now obviously on the back-side of his career) and heres why.
      * LBJ already has 3 Season MVP’s (kobe only has one)
      * LBJ has been The-Man on every team he has played on. Has gone to Miami and took D-Wades team
      * His stats confirm, he is a better rebounder than kobe,
      *Better defender because he can guard every position on the floor from point guard to center
      *Better at assisting other players/ Team ball (we know kobe aint passing the ball)
      *LBJ is a non-criminal, he hasn’t raped anyone
      * He is a better MAN because he hasn’t snitched on his teammates, after he got caught in an adulterous act.

      So, please spare all of us your love for the jack-up-artist/ Harlem Globetrotter/ kobe and stop mentioning him in the same sentence with the greatest of our generation…….MJ.

      Thank You in advance

      • bougin89 - Jun 8, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        Although I’m not arguing with the overall point of your post I just want to get something out there. Everyone says Lebron guards 1-5 and this is true that he is asked to defend big men sometimes depending on the Heat’s lineup. But he DOES NOT defend true 4 or 5’s well. He does not guard a back-to-the-basket player very well at all. Garnett has been eating him up in this series when he gets switched on him in the post. Overall though I definitely agree Lebron is a much better defender than Kobe and defends PG’s, SG’s, and SF’s better.

      • progress2011 - Jun 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        bougin89….your point is well received. However, the fact that there are only….MAYBE a handfull of “back-to-the-basket” players in the league, LBJ can have some success against most.

        I can think of only one, ole-skool type “back-to-the-basket” player in the league….PERIOD. And that would be Andrew Bynum.

        David Sterns NBA has positives and negatives. It has sped up the game, which makes it a full court game. As opposed to each team dribbling to their end and setting up a slower paced half court game.

        The negative is, we may never see dominant big men again, with a full repertoire of back-to-the-basket moves.

        The reason LBJ can have some success against most “centers” , is because most 7’0″ guys want to bring the ball up the court, cross-over guys going to the basket or become proficient 3 point shooters….aka Sam Perkins, Dirk Nowitzki type dudes.

        I’m not suggesting their point guard style bad BUT it is significantly different from Olajawon, The Admiral, Shaq, Lambier, Moses Malone, Kareem type “back-to-the-basket” players…..because LBJ definitely would have ZERO success against those “CENTERS”.

  24. diablito0402 - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Florida727, this is a sports blog, not english class, if a little typing error keeps you up a night to got problems my friend..

    • progress2011 - Jun 9, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      Blogging about sports, after a long day at work, often times in the middle of the night after the wife and kids are sleep, usually with one eye open and a glass of wine…….

      I might “tipe anythang and errrythang”….sometimes “entensionally”….definitely if some wannabe writer wants to run a spell czech on me !

      ahahahahaha

  25. rodge1 - Jun 8, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    @bougin89
    No one is defending the Decision. It was not the best way to announce his plans. But it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be either. Two years later and people are still crying about it so much that they constantly spew ignorant comments about a special player. That is actually much more pathetic. Holding on to hate because of that is much more pathetic. Expressing the unhappiness in your own life by trashing a basketball player is much more pathetic. Would you like more examples?

    • bougin89 - Jun 8, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      I have not trashed Lebron James…maybe you’re talking about somebody else.

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