By Mark Beauchamp, Contributing Writer, Loyal Celtics fan
Lebron James lofted a giant middle finger to the doubters with an absolutely dominating performance in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, leading his Miami Heat to a pivotal 98-79 triumph over the Celtics in Boston to force Game 7 on Saturday night in South Beach.
You gotta give the guy credit. James took a lot of criticism – a dash of it right here in this corner of fanzooloo – for not stepping up in clutch moments like the great ones are supposed to. Wow. He kind of put that one to rest with a mind blowing Game 6 performance on the parquet. He will have to do it again on Saturday to really get that monkey off his back but this may have been the awakening for Lebron. He may have turned the corner. There was none of the posing and strutting and pouting that we’ve come to expect from James. Just balling from the get go. And the C’s had no answer. James was relentless in going off for 45 points on 19-26 shooting. He could have had 60 as he was able to take a rest towards the end with the game well in hand. Just dominant.
As great as Lebron was on this night the prideful Celtics are hanging their heads a bit regretting the lost opportunity. To a man the Celtics gave Lebron all the credit he deserved for his historic performance but they also know that they could have done more defensively. And even with Lebron going off Boston had a few glimmers of a run when they were able to cut the lead to around 10 points. But those runs were done in by poor shooting by all of the key Celtics. Paul Pierce was especially brutal going 4 of 18 from the field. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett also suffered through poor shooting nights. And the mercurial Rajon Rondo had one of his roller coaster games – brilliant at times but also sloppy and especially guilty of making poor decisions with the basketball at critical junctures which resulted in turnovers.
It was Lebron’s night but it was also a pretty weak effort by the C’s on their home court. Fortunately it was only Game 6 so Celtics get to use their mulligan. But in failing yet again to close out a series on the first attempt the Green have put themselves in a precarious position. The Celtics will have to do it the tough way once again. Miami has the momentum, the swagger and home-court advantage. Boston once again looks like an old and battered club now facing the grim prospect of third consecutive Game 7 this postseason – this time on the road against a legit opponent .
But we believe in Boston. In another classic Gahden moment destined to go down in the history books the proud Boston fans that stuck around to the end of what could have been the last home game of the season and maybe the last of the New Big Three era serenaded the home team with a beautiful “Let’s Go Celtics” chant.
Forget about the fact that the starters were on the bench and the horse was way the F out of the barn with the Heat leading by as many as 25 as the clock ticked away. It didn’t make any sense really but it was a moving tribute. Perhaps it was a way for Celtics fans to say thanks to this team for their grit, pride and determination. Perhaps it was a bit of a sad goodbye to an era that produced World Championship 17. Whatever it was it was well received by The Truth, KG, Ray, Doc and the rest of the Green.
One more shot on Saturday in Miami on Saturday.
As Josie Wales said “Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”
F The Heat …. See you in Oklahoma City … Go Celtics.