THURSDAY JUNE 7 – BOSTON | With the pressure at its highest and absolutely no margin for error, LeBron James silenced his many critics, in one of the all-time great playoff performances.
With Miami’s backs against the walls — down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals — the Heat headed back to Boston to even the series out at 3-a-piece; forcing a Game 7 back in Miami, tonight.
James came out the gate red hot, and barely cooled down; dropping a phenomenal career high — in a playoff game – 30 1st-half points, on 12-of-14 shooting: becoming just the 6th player with 30 1st-half pts in past 15 postseasons.
“For us, it’s win or go home. I’m playing the whole second half.” James said, during a halftime interview.
Despite wanting to play the entire second half, James — who also played the entire first half — did eventually manage to go to the bench, due to the insurmountable damage he caused for Doc Rivers’ Celtics.
James managed to outperform Boston’s big three in every major statistical category – who scored a combined: 31 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists (Pierce: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assists. Garnett: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists. Allen: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists. — as well as managing to score over twice as many points as Rondo; — 22 – finishing the night with 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists; joining Wilt Chamberlain as the second player in NBA playoff history to achieve such statistics.
The Key to Game 7:
Since LeBron switched the momentum back in Miami’s favour after Game 6, the Heat are expected to win tonight’s game and head back to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year; but it won’t be easy.
Miami’s Keys to Victory:
- James needs another big game against a prepared Celtics’ defense – Nearly half of James’ points came from isolation in Game 6 — 20 to be exact, on 8-of-14 shooting. — Previously, James had only scored 24 points in isolation, on 9-of-30 shooting in Games 1-5 combined. Chances are, James is not going to have the hot hand from mid-range two games in a row. He will probably try his luck with a few mid-range jumpers early, but look to score more of his points inside, which is likely to draw double teams from Boston’s defense.
- Wade — who seems to only want to come alive in the second half for the majority of the postseason; starting 2-of-10 in Game 6 – needs to get going early and ease to scoring load for LeBron.
- Make use of the corners – Battier, who shot 2-of-4 from downtown, and Chalmers 3-of-4, did a good job regarding shot selection from deep in Game 6. The Heat don’t need to hoist up too many threes, just covert most of the ones they attempt.
- Transition defense – stop Rondo. In Game 6, Miami were a little slow getting back after a made basket on a few too many possessions; providing defensive matchup difficulties and an easy 2 points for Rondo.
Boston’s keys to Victory:
- Make 3-pointers – Ray Allen was just 1-of-3 from downtown in Game 6, followed by Pierce, who was an abysmal 0-of-6.
- Boston’s Big Three need to play big — along with Rondo – and fight through any signs of fatigue; proving they are not “too old” to win-it-all.
- Stop LeBron James.
Nothing beats a Game 7 in basketball, and this is by far the biggest game this year.
Are new legends edging their way to the final hurdle, or are the Celtics about to extend their legacy?
Tune in at @ 1:30am – (UK TIME) 8:30pm – (USA TIME [ET])
Article by Lewis Rose
Find Lewis on Twitter: @TheMostREAL
Stats and info assisted by: @ESPNStatsInfo