(*another campy sports headline, see post “King James can’t handle the Truth” for a previous example).
Lebron James showed last night why he’s the MVP. He poured it on, very nearly single-handedly ripping out the heart of the Celtics and stomping it on the parquet floor of Boston’s TD Garden.
I knew the Heat, and particularly James, would not likely let the game five embarrassment at home go lightly by, when Paul Pierce, after struggling all night, swished home a game-clinching three-pointer in James’ face. I don’t think anyone imagined how virulent would be James’ vengeance.
But James’ performance might have put the Heat exactly where the Celtics need them–believing they can cruise to a game seven victory when the series concludes Saturday night in Miami. The Heat are more talented than the Celtics, but the Celtics generally play better team basketball. The Celtics only hope may be to catch the Heat superstars, particularly James, coasting, aglow in the feeling that they proved their basketball cred in game six.
The Celtics could not hit a shot in last night’s game. James could not miss one. The law of averages provides that no one, not even James, can be that accurate all the time, nor that the Celtic’s shooters won’t eventually find the basket. It’ll take a reversal of recent trends for the Celtics to win, but recent trends reverse all the time in basketball.
Since James and the Heat could not have played better last night, perhaps Saturday night they’ll throw up some bricks. Since the Celtics would almost have to try to play worse, perhaps they’ll play again like they did in the three games they won to push the series to a deciding game seven.
Whatever happens, it’s been a fun ride this season with the Celtics. At the all-star break, they had a losing record. By the end of the season, they had managed to win their division, again. Now they’ve made it to game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. A good deal of the joy of watching the Celtics this season has come from the play of Rajon Rondo, a basketball maestro in his conduct of Doc River’s orchestra of future Hall of Famers.
If the Heat win Saturday night (which I think is likely), I’ll immediately become an Oklahoma City fan for the finals. The OKC Thunder are the NBA team of the future. Kevin Durant is arguably as good as James on a regular basis, and better than James in the clutch. While neither basketball, nor any other sport, is a morality play, except for the fans, it would still be nice if the Thunder make the Heat into a has been before they ever were. The Thunder play good team basketball with a couple of the best players in the game and a highly-talented, if in one case, ridiculous looking ( i.e., the bearded bomber, James Harden), supporting cast. The Heat just have three great players who often look like they’re playing together for the first time in a schoolyard pickup game.
I don’t think either the Heat or the Celtics could beat OKC in the finals.
But for Saturday night–Go Celtics!–perhaps for the last time this season.