“Now we have a series.”
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra summed it up perfectly after winning game six against the Celtics in Boston.
Before I get to the win-or-go-home game, the performance of LeBron James in the Heats 98-79 win must be recognised.
It was a one-man band show. Speaking to the media post-game, James was nonchalant yet completely focussed.
“I just try and make plays.”
He certainly did that. The league MVP delivered awesome numbers: 45 points from 19-26 shooting, 15 rebounds and five assists. The only other player in history to go for those numbers or better in a playoff game was the great Wilt Chamberlain with 50 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
LeBron put on a breathtaking display of his gifts that kept the Heat alive and a chance of going back to the finals. He played out of his mind. What’s important to note is that Boston couldn’t have defended him any better.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was full of praise for James while targeting his men with a challenge.
“He was sensational.”
“One man beat us tonight. Our guys should take it personally.”
“We’re going to have to play a hell of a game.”
Those words are sure to have an impact on KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.
Game seven is a test of character for both sides, particularly though the Boston outfit that is faced with having to win two road games in this series. An incredibly massive task especially as it is also the final game.
Rivers won’t allow James to single-handedly beat his team in consecutive games. Piece needs to live up to his nickname “The Truth” in game seven. He had an awful game. The 2008 finals MVP failed to record double figures in the point category, shooting 4-18 from the field including 0-6 beyond the three-point line. Boston’s three-point percentage was a dismal 7.1 percent.
Boston had no ball movement and they never really established what they wanted to do.
In a conference call with journalists after landing in Miami, Rivers mentioned that his team is experienced in these situations and that might aid them.
“You can look at all the tweaks and changes that each team has made. But, at the end of the day, you have to go out and perform, you have to make shots, you have to rebound. You have to do all the things that you’ve probably talked about since Game 1 of the regular season, and you have to do it with an urgency.”
For the Celtics to win today Rondo will need to deliver an MVP-type game and they must hit the shots which they normally make but succeeded miserably in game six.
How does Miami close out the series and advance to a meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder?
LeBron James will once again perform big however the pressure will come down hard on him. Therefore, D-Wade has to step up at both ends, especially offensively – the Heat will need solid numbers from him.
Bosh who will play his third game back from injury also will be required at both ends. Miami’s role players have never been needed more in any other game than today’s. Mario Chalmers will get more open looks and the ball in his hand due to James seeing more Celtic jerseys in front of him. Chalmers will need to hit his shots. As to will Mike Miller and Shane Battier. Battier is important up the other end also as Spoelstra will ask him to stop Ray Allen.
So here it is. Game seven in the Eastern Conference Final. Miami. Boston. It’s game time. Three. Two. One. Let’s play ball gentleman.