Last night was just a masterful basketball experience. There was the Boston crowd that was so ready to crown another conference champ. There was Brandon Bass and his ruthless third quarter putback dunk. Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy brought it. So did Shane Battier, who probably doubled his floor burn average. Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers also nearly came to blows early on. But who are we kidding? This game could’ve been awful. This was about one guy, and one man only, and not only did he save Miami’s season, but he saved us from what would’ve been a truly ugly Game 6 without him, like Wrath of the Titans bad. LeBron James catches a lot of heat for not bringing it in big games – which really isn’t fair considering all of the unbelievable games he’s had in tough situations – but he absolutely came out ready to play last night in Miami’s 98-79 W. He wasn’t smiling, wasn’t yapping, wasn’t doing anything outside of destroying the Celtics (45 points, 15 rebounds, five dimes). The Boston crowd is smart, probably the smartest crowd in the league, and they were silent throughout much of the first quarter, almost as if they were saying, “Oh s$%&…” After one quarter, Miami was up 10, and LeBron had 14 points. He missed only one shot, and scored in almost every way possible: off the dribble, on the break, in the post. In fact, he had a couple of moves in the lane that were so nice we thought he might’ve taken a red eye flight during his off day to go hang out with Hakeem Olajuwon again … Then after sitting for less than three minutes of game time, he scored again immediately off his first two catches. Miami pushed the lead up to 15 with ‘Bron making 10 of his first 11 shots. It was like watching a Public Enemy concert with Chuck D doing it all. The Heat actually didn’t even have a Flavor Flav or Terminator X… actually take that comparison back. The best one to make is easy: it was like watching LeBron in Cleveland. After 18 and a half minutes, Boston had the lead over LeBron 29-24 … He finished 12-for-14 from the field over the whole half, almost none of them were easy, and walked into halftime with 30 points. Yeah, he’s really not that good … We’re officially sick of the Rajon Rondo (21 points, 10 assists) fake-behind-the-back-pass move. No one even falls for it anymore – outside of Mike Breen – but Rondo makes it work because he’s such an awkward player. In the first half, he made a couple of jumpers, and combined with Brandon Bass to keep Boston close, despite the fact they were scoring less than the guys from Hall Pass. You know you’re in bad shape when Brandon Bass is your second-best option in a conference final clincher. We’d say Rondo had a great first half – 19 forgotten points because people were consumed by James, and also five turnovers because he was being asked to do everything – but anytime you follow the new Celtic code of flopping, falling down and then doing Kevin Garnett knuckle pushups, you get no love from us. No love … James and Dwyane Wade combined for 36 points in the first half! Sarcasm aside, Dwyane Wade (17 points, eight rebounds) was out there playing like Dwayne Schintzius. Three or four different times, we literally had to stop like, “D-Wade, what are you doing dude?” Near the end of the first half, he got out on a fast break and had a chance at a shot at the rim. Instead, he stopped. For no reason. Just stopped. The next time he has a big first half might be the next time Big Baby passes up free pancakes … Keep reading to hear about where Paul Pierce went last night …
Boston was making all sorts of crazy plays to try to get back into the game in the third quarter, but Miami responded every time. With a little over two minutes to go in the frame, James pulled up and canned yet another three to push it back to a dozen. We were just waiting for him to pause at midcourt, pick up a random spear, hoist it into the crowd, raise his hands and start screaming “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” At the end of the third, he had 41 points, the most anyone has scored in three quarters in a playoff game since Allen Iverson in 2001 (who turned 37 years old yesterday, by the way, and somehow still dresses like he’s 17) … In the fourth quarter, the lead was pushed to 18 as Wade finally withdrew from his funk by making a couple of shots in a row – including a nice reverse – and hitting Shane Battier for a triple … We kept waiting and waiting for the Celtics to make a run, and then all of a sudden we looked up and Ryan Hollins was checking in with seven minutes to go. Game over … Where was Paul Pierce (4-for-18, nine points) all night? Between getting bamboozled by LeBron in the first half and then having to sit out with foul trouble, we would’ve given him a free pass for taking on a storm head first. But then he came out in the second half and was still shooting like he was the one-armed assassin in The Fugitive. Basically, the only good thing he did all night was drop Battier onto his ass on a little hesitation dribble. Of course, he immediately followed it with a miss … Yesterday represented the first day of the Chicago combine, which is otherwise known, as Dion Waiters basically told us, “The Combine where they test you doing all sorts of stupid, pointless s$%^,” and here are some observations: European Player Tomas Santoransky got absolutely lit up on defense in the one-on-one. He couldn’t stay with any of the guards … Tony Wroten shot terribly in the shooting drills. Even though we already knew he shot something like 19 percent from three-point range, he was especially atrocious. Wide open shots, no contest, and he couldn’t hit a lick … Meanwhile, John Jenkins essentially made every three-point shot. Not that that’s a surprise … And Doron Lamb looked good, especially defensively in one-on-one drills … And before we finish Smack for the day, we just needed to show love for that first half again, because for real, it was outrageous. Dude had 30 points in one half on the road against the No. 1 defense in the NBA in the Eastern Conference Finals with his teammates playing like garbage. And he missed only two shots, and they were facing elimination … We’re out like LeBron’s Boston demons.
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