Lebron James silenced his critics Thursday night. Under heavy scrutiny, Lebron put the Miami Heat on his back and went off for 45 points and 15 rebounds. With the win, the Heat have tied this series at 3-3 with game 7 taking place this Saturday night.
Lebron Answers his Critics
Being a clutch player doesn’t always involve hitting the big shot at the end of a game. Sometimes, it’s about putting the game away early. Lebron James scored 30 of his 45 points in the opening half.
I don’t recall James ever being that aggressive that early. What started settling for jumpers turned into a basketball clinic from then on out. Lebron went 19-26 from the floor and 2-4 from beyond the arc. He was efficient, confident and down right nasty. There was absolutely from James on his jumpers. He finally stepped up and literally put the weight of an entire organization on his back and crushed the Boston Celtics.
For all of the slack he gets when the Heat lose, he deserves just as much praise when he puts on performances of this nature. For the last 2 days, members of the basketball media have discussed how monumental a game 6 loss would be for Miami. Would head coach Erik Spoelstra be fired? Would ”The “Big 3″ be dismantled.? What was even more comical was the questioning of the genius that is Pat Riley. Yes, I was one of the many who overreacted.
All of that was on the line Thursday night. Say what you will about James when the bright lights are on, but tonight was a career defining game for the reigning MVP. If Miami lost, the world would have suffered through an entire summer of Heat dismantling rumors. Instead, we get to look forward to a game 7. If Miami lost, many Heat management would be out of jobs, instead critics will have to nitpick Lebron’s game. If Miami lost, we would have had to endure Skip Bayless and his Prince James comments. Instead, Skip Bayless has to eat crow…well for 1 day at the least. (Somehow I imagine he won’t give credit to Lebron but take shots at Boston)
I’m certain that people will find a way to justify putting Lebron down after tonight. I can make the argument for them. It wasn’t a game 7, it wasn’t in the finals, it wasn’t a game winning shot. It just makes for a better read, watch, headline. Negativity sells and we are all guilty of it. But Lebron did something much more impactful. He ended the game by halftime. Even in the 3rd quarter Lebron was there to put an end to Boston’s futile runs. If your going to come down on him with the hammer of god in a loss, even though it’s not game 7, you have to praise him in the win. The Heat won game 6 because of Lebron, plain and simple. It wasn’t Bosh playing more, it wasn’t Wade taking over, and it wasn’t the role players finally stepping up. It was Lebron James…end of story.
Boston Looked Sloppy
Believe it or not, but there was another team playing. Although they played poorly. Marred by early turnovers, and not being to defend the aforementioned James, resulted in an early deficit. Down 13 at half , feeling more like 20, the Celtics were never able to recover. I never like to overreact and I won’t here. This is simply a result of playing so sloppy early and the opposing star player having a career night. When those two things happen it’s tough to come back.
Paul Pierce was awful, Ray Allen was a non-factor, and Keven Garnett had his worst game of the series. Worst case scenario, only one of those things will happen in game 7. This is a throw the game tape in a fire situation. Nothing can be learned from this game if you are Boston. There is nobody you can sign to guard Lebron before the next game.
Doc Rivers will figure something out for Boston. The defense will be better next game and I’m sure he will throw some gimmick defenses out at James. That’s not going to be the issue. The 79 points Boston put up is the problem. Rivers has to find a way for his team to get easy buckets. Miami is a terrific half-court defensive team and Boston struggled with their half-court sets.
Early on the Celtics looked to push the ball and were successful. It’s when they try to slow the game down that the offense struggles. Look for Rivers to run as much as possible and Brandon Bass to play a big role offensively in game 7. Boston is not a 100 ppg team, it’s just not who they are. Still, they need to get close to that number to win game 7.
I don’t think there is a single thing that can be taken from this game. Lebron went bonkers and dominated the game with his scoring. As a player that’s just not who he is. If this is the start of a new aggressive Lebron, well than, we are in for a treat. But if history as taught us anything about James, it’s that he is an unselfish player. Game 6 might have been more of James being on fire and staying in the zone, more than him changing his ways. Going into game 7, the Heat are still going to have poor role players and questions about where offense, outside their “Big 3″, is coming from.
For Boston, I think this game was an aberration. I already stated that their “Big 3″ won’t collectively play as poorly as they did. Also their bench is better than they were for game 6. Boston only got 15 points off the bench and most of that was in garbage time. The Celtics are deeper than the Heat and just need to show it in game 7. There is no reason Boston can’t go to Miami and win this series.
What else can a fan ask for? The drama, the tension, the (lack of) hairline, and a trip to the NBA Finals at stake. Game 7, Saturday 8:30pm on Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Watch it and come back here for a recap with me and my old buddy Jason Leung. Jason is currently in Atlantic City with all the SCIC petty cash. He promises us some new found fortune, or a dead street walker, when he gets back.
Joseph Nardone is a Writer/Blogger for Sir Charles In Charge. He is also a
loyalist apologist for Rajon Rondo. You can follow him on the twitter machine @JosephNardone