***Ridiculously, I think a lot of folks (including myself) came into this game in hopes of seeing LeBron replicate his instant classic. Although he played an outstanding evening of basketball (31 and 12), he was unable to do so, because… well… that game six was arguably the best individual playoff performance put on in recent NBA history. Is he really supposed to do that every night? I was thinking, that right there should serve as proof that LeBron is the best in the league—he’s held to different standards than everyone else. Let’s say LeBron was a high jumper, not a basketball player. He’d be trying to get over a bar two or three feet higher than everyone else, yet his jumps would be critiqued as if he’d been trying to clear the same height as his fellow competitors. Personally, I think it’s all a bit unfair. That being said, there is a reason why the bar is set higher for LeBron James, and that reason is because he’s better than everyone else. This man is averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists for the playoffs, folks. He makes one more free throw in game four and he scores THIRTY POINTS IN EVERY GAME OF THIS SERIES. That’s six 30-point explosions in seven games—as many as Kevin Durant has in 15 playoff games thus far.
***LeBron made a variety of spectacular plays last night, including a driving dunk that followed up an ankle-breaking crossover and a cold-blooded three-pointer from the outskirts of Dade County (look at this picture of the shot, notice that the arc isn’t even visible). My favorite of his highlights, though, had to be the double-lob conversion with Dwyane Wade.
That was beautiful, and I think it helped restore some order as the road warriors had begun to build an advantage. Oh, and you already know what I liked best about it, don’t you? Yeah, that rim hang, son! I can’t believe Joey Crawford let that sh!t slide on his dictatorial watch. For those of you who blew up my Twitter timeline in search of a technical foul, your basketball fan passes ought to be revoked. That rim hang is nothing but a man’s passion, enthusiasm, and competitiveness. You want to punish that? Get the f@ck out of here.
***Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double (22/10/14) for the first time in this series. Did he really play that well, though? I don’t think so. He had a very strong third quarter (in which he made 4 of his 10 field goals), I’ll give him that. However, throughout much of the evening he was hesitant to take his open shots, and he completely botched four transition opportunities in the first half alone (the Celtics actually ended up scoring on one of those breaks, but came up empty on the other three). His defense was nothing to write home about, either. Not that it ever is.
***As great as LeBron was, the difference in this game was Chris Bosh (hence my photo choice). LeBron was the leader as Miami came back from a halftime deficit of seven to tie the game at the end of three, but it was Bosh who put them over the hump with 19 points off the bench. Although Bosh was the only Miami reserve to score, he outproduced Boston’s substitutes by a wide margin—17 points, to be exact. Unexpectedly, Bosh displayed timely accuracy from three-point range. As he knocked down three of four long balls, Bosh tied the game, gave Miami a lead, and extended a mid-fourth-quarter advantage to four points (the game was never again a one-possession affair). I’d also like to note that his first three-pointer was the final bucket in an individual string of three straight scores. Although it was only the second quarter, I thought this stretch was key. Miami was struggling offensively and needed someone to step up and keep them afloat. Bosh did that.
***Dwyane Wade took a couple of ill-advised shots and committed a pair of careless turnovers, but I thought he played pretty well. He connected on two third-quarter jump shots that stood out as key buckets in Miami’s surge, and he also scored five consecutive points that pretty much put Boston to bed with about three minutes to go. He, LeBron, and Chris combined to score Miami’s final 31 points. No other Heat played scored a point in the fourth quarter. The only non-big-three statistics of the period came from Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem, who combined for three rebounds and a single assist.
***Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were not good enough. Throughout this postseason, Garnett has been Boston’s most consistent scoring threat. He produced just 14 points in game seven. As for Paul Pierce, he needed 18 shots to score 19 points. LeBron’s size swallowed up a few of his attacks, and he just plain missed a couple of shots from the outside.
***Brandon Bass had an exceptional game at the offensive end of the floor, scoring 16 points on 6-8. The poor bastard simply cannot guard LeBron James, though (not that he should be able to… I actually commend his effort). As Jeff Van Gundy pointed out on multiple occasions, Bass probably should’ve backed off a tad bit more.