Dismantling the Miami Heat? Hold on. LeBron James put on his serious-villain face and had one of his finest playoff performances, dominating almost singlehandely the Boston Celtics in Boston, scoring 45 points, en route to a 98-79 win in Game 6.
It was over in the first quarter. James simply wouldn’t miss. Couldn’t miss. The Heat were up by 10, with excellent defense on Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. The appearance of Chris Bosh, playing 28 minute (7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks), changed the way the Celtics attacked and defended. And they looked bad, slow and that word they hate to hear – old.
Kevin Garnett couldn’t have his way in the paint with both Haslem and Bosh to deal with, finishing with 12 points and 5 rebounds, shooting 6-14. Maybe it’s simply age and fatigue catching up with him. Paul Pierce was frustrated and out of the game all night. Maybe guarding LeBron James and getting torched time after time took the fighting spirit out of him – A terrible 4-18 night with 9 points.
Rajon Rondo? The key to the Boston Celtics’ offense was bad. He had his moments, but they were drops facing a wave of James and the Heat on both ends. Rondo was careless with his passing, turning the ball over 7 times, to go along with his 10 assists and 21 points. He had 19 in the half, but failed to show up in the second half. He would have gone 48 minutes again, but the Celtics began their garbage time 8 minutes to go.
Back to James, who simply set the tone from the first second in the night, giving one of the all time great playoff performances in a win or go home game. Scoring 45 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, and he still shot bad from the line. He’s already had a similar game a couple of years ago against the Celtics, while wearing Cavs uniform, in the Garden. It didn’t end well for the Heat.
Dwyane Wade was about energy, not numbers. He finished with 17 points after another terrible first half for him, but he did finish with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. There was just no one on Boston’s side to answer back for the Heat’s raised level on both ends of the floor, following LeBron James.
The Celtics had their chances. They missed a lot of open looks. But they looked tired. Doc Rivers expected to see the best of his players on an elimination game. He got the best of James, and maybe the worst of his guys, losing by 19, shooting a terrible 1-14 from beyond the arc, 7.1%.