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Game 6 loss creates national surprise of Celtics’ lack of heart 06.09.12 at 9:46 am ET
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After the Celtics dropped Game 6 in front of an energetic crowd at “The Jungle,” fans and writers nationally wondered what happened to Boston’s heart, and noted LeBron James‘ very clutch, 45-point performance.

The loss prompted NBA’s Shaun Powell to question if the Celtics can mount a performance energetic enough to win Game 7.

“Given a chance to win on their home floor, the Celtics folded like a paper airplane, raising suspicion that their best game could be behind them,” Powell wrote.

Some fans responded by calling out the Celtics for not showing up to play, while others praised James’ performance. Most fans said they weren’t surprised by the game’s outcome and a few added it will be hard to predict the winner of Game 7.

“The way I see it, the playoffs is all about adjustments,” one fan wrote. “Boston won game 5, Miami made adjustments and came back to win game 6. Boston is in the better position right now, because they can only adjust to what they did wrong in the last game. The Heat do not have the grace of hindsight on their side right now because they are coming off of a win. Barring an amazing game by LeBron AND [Dwyane] Wade (yes they both will have to step up for this one), the Celtics determination and coaching staff will see them to the Finals. Don’€™t think that LeBron’s game was all about him, [coach Erik] Spoeltsra put him in better situations to score the ball judging on what wasn’€™t working in Game 5.”

On fan expressed disappointment with Boston’s effort on FoxSports’ recap.

“I was shocked at the lack of effort from the Celt’s last night,” the fan wrote. “It looked like none of them wanted to be there. Maybe [NBA commissioner David] Stern promised them a blockbuster trade next year if they would lose.”

USA Today’s Adi Joseph responded to Boston’s loss by saying the Celtics need to be fixed because “nothing worked” for the team.

ESPN’s Skip Bayless was one media personalty who admitted Boston’s loss, and James’ stunning performance, didn’t surprise him.

Lower expectations, Heat as “underdogs,” most ppl thinking Boston big – LeBron goes off. Predictable. But NOW the pressure returns, Bayless tweeted.

The focus may have stayed on the Celtics if James lashed at critics by recording 45 points on the night. His clutch performance directed most reaction from the game his way, and most praised James’, even those surprised by his performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, David Stern, Doc Rivers, Dywane Wade
Irish Coffee: ‘Let’s go Celtics,’ one final curtain call 06.08.12 at 4:32 pm ET
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Ask Heat coach Erik Spoelstra about Game 7, and like Good Will Hunting he’d probably throw Shakespeare at you, right? “Once more unto the breach, dear friends.” But he’s never been near one.

Neither have most Miamians, at least not since 2005, although they surely have many more to come in their playoff future. Meanwhile, these Celtics and their fans have experienced six Game 7’s in this five-year run of the Kevin Garnett era, including their previous series, but the “Let’s go Celtics” chants echoing to the banners above in the final minutes of Game 6 seemed to suggest: This could be it for awhile, so give us one more. Please.

‘€œI want to say to all the fans, ‘Thank you guys,'” said Garnett in the wake of the 97-78 loss. “I’€™ve never in my life experienced anything like this, in any sport. I’€™m just truly blessed to be a Celtic and be a part of the city of Boston. That’€™s what’€™s up to all the New Englanders around here. It’€™s crazy. It’s [fudge]ing crazy.’€

After three straight Celtics victories in the Eastern Conference finals, Thursday night was supposed to be a Garden celebration — the undressing of the fraudulent Heat in The Emperor’s New Clothes — but instead King James ascended to his NBA MVP throne. When it was over, LeBron James had 45 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and one elusive victory in an elimination game that saw his Heat lead by as many as 25 points.

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Dwyane Wade on LeBron James: ‘This isn’t last year’ at 12:24 pm ET
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Dwyane Wade didn’t see it coming. “I’m not a fortune teller,” he said. Erik Spoelstra sensed it coming. “Everybody notices the game,” the Heat coach said. “We saw the last 24 hours.” Either way, LeBron James arrived.

“I hope now you guys will stop talking about LeBron and that he doesn’t play in big games,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “He was pretty good tonight. Now that’s to bed. We can go ahead and play Game 7.”

Therein lies the rub. Sure, his Game 6 evisceration of the C’s was a transcendent performance by a transcendent player, but all 45 points and 15 rebounds are for naught if he and the Heat can’t replicate it on Saturday night.

James willed his team to a must-win playoff victory, finally. That’s what the NBA MVP is supposed to do. But James won’t be remembered for Game 6 if he can’t will them to a must-win series and, really, a must-win NBA title. Surely, it’s a lot to heap on a man with shoulders broad enough to carry the load but a heart that, until Thursday night, seemed unwilling to do so, but it’s not as though he didn’t ask for it in Miami.

“This is not last year,” said Wade. “He’s really been locked in. He’s been playing unbelievable in the playoffs. He’s taken it upon himself. Like I said, he’s been MVP of the league right now. He’s showcasing it on a nightly basis.”

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade
Celtics shootaround notes: Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo ready for Game 6 06.07.12 at 12:46 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics spent Thursday morning in typical gameday mode, preparing for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden against LeBron James and the Heat. All 14 active players were present and accounted for as the team went through half-court sets and shooting drills in anticipation of the game that – if they win – would propel them to the NBA finals for the third time in five seasons. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were among the Celtics in attendance. Both had minor injury issues in the Game 5 win in Miami. Allen had to leave the game for the locker room midway through the third quarter to get treatment for his sore ankles while Rondo suffered a cut on his left arm but both returned to the game and are expected to be fully ready for the potential series-clincher at the Garden. Rondo shot just 3-of-15 in Game 5 while suffering the injury to the same arm on which he dislocated his left elbow in 2011.

“I don’€™t know what happened there, I think he got slashed or cut,” said Rivers of the Rondo injury on Wednesday. “I pay zero attention to injuries and never ask about them. I don’€™t want to know about them.”

If the Celtics prevail in Game 6, they will have a day off and then prepare for the Thunder in Game 1 of the NBA finals next Tuesday in Oklahoma City. If the Celtics lose Thursday night’s game, they will have to head back on a plane Friday and travel to Miami for Game 7 on Saturday night at American Airlines Arena.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Miami Heat
Stephen A. Smith on The Big Show: Magic interested in Kevin Garnett? 06.06.12 at 5:56 pm ET
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ESPN’€™s Stephen A. Smith joined The Big Show Wednesday afternoon to discuss the Celtics‘€™ big road win Tuesday night in Miami and what the future may hold for both teams. But first, Smith felt he had some owning up to do.

‘€œYou’ve got to give credit where credit’€™s due. I get so disgusted with people that can’€™t fess up and own up,’€ Smith said. ‘€œWe were wrong, most of us were wrong and I’€™m at the top of that list. I didn’€™t think Boston had a shot to win two games this series.’€

To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

Smith said his pre-series prediction of a Miami victory was based on a rash of Celtics injuries and their season-long rebounding woes.

However, ‘€œSure enough, because of exceptional coaching by Doc Rivers, and guys that simply have the heart of a champion, [the Celtics] just know how to win. And they have so much heart, so much focus and dedication. They just know how to get it done,’€ Smith said.

‘€œIt’€™s not just that they’€™re winning, it’€™s that they’€™re making it plain that they had no business being an underdog. ‘€¦ And the way I look at it, the Miami Heat are incredibly lucky that they still have a game to play and they still have life because they don’€™t deserve it. They don’€™t even deserve to be on a respirator right now.’€

Asked about possible destinations for Kevin Garnett next season, the well-connected Smith said a couple of candidates for the Magic’€™s general manager job have told Orlando, ‘€œWhat you need to do is break the bank a little bit and sign KG to a two-year deal, even it is for about $20 million.’€

Smith also suggested the Lakers were a logical destination for Garnett, if Boston didn’€™t make a strong enough offer to re-sign him. ‘€œMe personally, if I’€™m Kobe Bryant, and I know I’€™m staying in L.A., I’€™m making a call to KG,’€ Smith said.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett
Michael Wilbon on M&M: ‘Miami just doesn’t have what it takes to be a championship team’ at 3:05 pm ET
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Appearing on Mut & Merloni Wednesday afternoon, ESPN analyst Michael Wilbon said if the Heat lose the series, which he expects them to do, they will have to rebuild the team.

“It became apparent literally sometime in Game 3 — more likely in Game 4 — that Miami just doesn’t have what it takes to be a championship team. They don’t have it,” he said. “It doesn’t mean individually they don’t have the talent. ‘€¦ But collectively it doesn’t work. And that’s what’s become apparent. And that’s why the Celtics are going to put the Heat out of their misery tomorrow night.”

Added Wilbon: ‘€œIf Miami goes out tomorrow night, and I expect Boston to close them out ‘€¦ you have to just sort of deep-six this thing, and you have to start over. You keep LeBron [James] and you figure out what else you’€™re going to do. And that means changes. It means changes in the coaching office, it means changes in that locker room. You don’€™t commit to $350 million or whatever it is to get a conference finalist.”

Asked whether he felt the coaching jobs by Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra represented the biggest mismatch in the series, Wilbon was unequivocal.

‘€œNo question. No question. It’€™s almost embarrassing. And that happened last year in the finals as well with [Mavericks coach] Rick Carlisle,” he said.

Wilbon pointed to Spoelstra’€™s inability to get his players to execute as ultimately dooming Miami’€™s chances.

‘€œSpoelstra can’t get done what they need to have done,” he said. “The other night, in [Game] 4, when you got all these situations where Miami can win that game in Boston, people point out, they say, ‘€˜Well, they aren’€™t running plays.’€™ Well are they not running plays because Spoelstra didn’€™t diagram them during the timeout? Of course not. Of course Spoelstra diagrammed a play during the timeout. Are they executing the play? No. So, whose fault is that? Either Spoelstra can’€™t get them to, or the players — I don’€™t think they’€™re defiant, but whatever the case, this goes back to disconnect. ‘€¦ There’€™s a disconnect between what they’re supposed to do and what they actually do — what they’€™re capable of doing, and what they actually do. Do I seem them suddenly putting it all together tomorrow in Boston? No, I don’€™t. I don’€™t see any scenario where that happens.’€

In terms of the coaching job Rivers has done this year, Wilbon talked about a conversation he shared with Rivers last offseason that foreshadowed the coach’€™s regular-season strategy.

‘€œI remember being with Doc, I think it was during the lockout, and he jokingly said a 66-game season was too long, he needed a 45-game season. And so what Doc then did, even though he was joking when he said it to me, he was crafting what amounted to a 45-game season,” Wilbon said. “He could have made that move with Kevin Garnett games earlier; he didn’€™t want to. Putting [Garnett] at center and other moves he made, introducing, spoon-feeding Avery Bradley, and how to get him into the lineup, and other changes. He could have done that stuff earlier, but he knew he really needed 45 games because he wasn’€™t going to risk getting Ray Allen hurt and risk getting Paul Pierce hurt and going into the playoffs without those guys being healthy. And so it was a balancing act. And it’s a great truly great coaching job.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: The Celtics, Heat and the duality of team at 1:26 pm ET
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There’s a duality of team happening in this series. Not good vs. evil, but heart vs. spinelessness. As Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Celtics, “They have championship DNA. They have what we’re trying to get.”

The lasting images of Game 5: 1) A blank-faced LeBron James retreating into the tunnel of AmericanAirlines Arena after another devastating postseason defeat as one young Miami fan repeated behind him, “Good job! Good effort!” And 2) A grinning Paul Pierce returning to a timeout huddle, his puffed chest being pounded by teammates after he delivered another playoff victory that forced most Heat fans to funnel for the exits.

Throughout Tuesday night, constant dueling reminders arose of why these Heat are these Heat and these Celtics are these Celtics. Let’s revisit four of them from the C’s pivotal Eastern Conference finals victory.

  • LeBron James in a halftime interview with ESPN’s Doris Burke, moments after his Heat coughed up a 13-point lead: “I’m pleased with my individual performance.”
  • Paul Pierce overheard in a timeout, shortly after burying the dagger 3 in LeBron’s face with 52 seconds remaining: “I’m cold-blooded.”

Through the first 40 minutes, James made 10-of-21 shots, netted 28 points and grabbed 12 boards. Over the final eight minutes, he finished 1-of-4 from the field, scored just two points and snatched only one rebound.

Conversely, in the first 42 minutes, Pierce tallied 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting while amassing two rebounds and two assists. In the last six minutes of the game, he recorded five points — making his lone shot attempt (the dagger) — to go along with two assists and two boards. One rose to the occasion; the other ran from it.
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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Doc Rivers
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