Graduations. Weddings. Funerals. Few things in our lives can mirror the combination of nervous energy and raw emotion that goes into Game 7 of a major-sport playoff series. And considering all that was on the line in Saturday’s decisive Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Heat and Celtics, it was like all three of those events wrapped in one: Somebody would be moving on to the next level, somebody would be getting closer to a ring, and somebody might die. OK, so it wasn’t that serious … But not that you could’ve told LeBron James. If LeBron adopted the persona of a cold-blooded serial killer in Game 6, in Game 7 he was more like an agitated CEO — barking orders at his teammates for the first three quarters as they kept turning the ball over, blowing defensive assignments and allowing the Celtics to start dreaming of another banner. Boston led by as many as 11 in the first half before Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sparked a third-quarter rally that evened the score going into the fourth. And then LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh took over … While Bosh (19 pts, 8 rebs) turned into a 6-foot-11 Michael Redd, knocking down triples and long twos all over the court, Wade and LeBron put on a display of one-on-one brilliance. Wade (23 pts, 6 asts) has obviously lost some of the explosiveness he had back in ’06, so he used a lot of craftiness and body control to get to the lane and create buckets. LeBron (31 pts, 12 rebs) hasn’t lost any explosiveness, so he was just beasting whoever tried to guard him and throwing in dunks and power layups against the overmatched Celtics. The Big 3 scored all of Miami’s points in the fourth quarter, pulling away for a 101-88 win and advancing to the NBA Finals … LeBron didn’t have that eerie look or sense of detachment he had in Game 6, which had to worry anybody who is rooting for him to finally get his championship this year. Maybe the worst thing that could’ve happened for LeBron’s mindset was Shane Battier hitting a couple of early threes and Udonis Haslem hitting some early jumpers. It was like those shots snapped LeBron back into the reality that he’s always been a natural playmaker and passer, so he went away from trying to score on everybody in favor of setting up his teammates and hesitating to be a ball-hog. And when they suddenly weren’t as hot, that familiar sense of dread started to overcome Miami’s arena. Or maybe ‘Bron was just pacing himself to blow up in the fourth quarter … Best player on the court for Boston? For a while it was Brandon Bass. He had 16 points and four steals, including one play where he picked off a pass in open court, raced down and dunked on Wade’s head. And while Bass was the primary guy guarding LeBron during that fatal fourth quarter, he didn’t do a bad job considering that, well, nobody can really stick LeBron one-on-one. As good as Bass was, though, Jeff Van Gundy still managed to hype him up too much. JVG can’t stop talking about how great of a trade it was for the C’s to get Bass from Orlando. It’s like he’s trying to subliminally take shots at ex-Magic GM Otis Smith for having a role in Stan Van Gundy getting axed. Somebody go back and check the MVP ballot and see if JVG didn’t give Bass a write-in vote … Keep reading to hear about what Rondo did that nobody realizes …
Smack / Jun 10, 2012 / 5:38 am
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