LeBron, Wade & Bosh Take Over Game 7; Rondo, KG Are Sore Losers

By: 06.10.12
LeBron James

LeBron James (photo. David Alvarez)

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 …

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Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo was pretty good, too. He had the quietest Game 7 triple-double of all-time (22 pts, 10 rebs, 14 asts) and made more of an impression when he (and later Kevin Garnett) walked off the court with less than 30 seconds to go and didn’t bother acknowledging any of the Heat players. Remember when LeBron took a bunch of crap for not shaking Dwight Howard‘s hand after Orlando beat Cleveland in the 2009 conference finals? Let’s see how Rondo and KG will be treated … LeBron’s fourth-quarter dunk that gave Miami the lead before the big run will be the play all over the highlight reels — along with the 30-foot three he hit during that run over a double-team — but the play of the night might’ve been a defensive effort by LeBron. In the first half he threw a bad pass into the middle of traffic that Rondo picked off, but LeBron chased him down, ethered Rondo’s layup, and bumped him just enough that it looked like Rondo wouldn’t survive his crash into the baseline seats … Even through the TV screen, the pre-game atmosphere was electric. Magic Johnson looked and sounded like he wanted to ditch ESPN’s studio, borrow Eddy Curry‘s uniform and run point for the Heat. Jeff Van Gundy broke out his best church suit and felt compelled to comb the sides of his head. Bosh whispered through his pre-game interview like he didn’t dare rattle the concentration of his teammates, even though they weren’t in the same room with him. Paul Pierce was even pacing the hallway like he actually knew what it was like to be nervous … Forget what you’ve heard about LeBron or Blake Griffin or whoever: The best pure athlete in the NBA has to be Avery Bradley. On a late-night episode of “SportsCenter,” one of the anchors gleefully yelled, “Manny Pacquiao lost to Avery Bradley!” Starting guard for the Boston Celtics and a world-class boxer? That’s impressive … So now there are a lot of questions facing the Celtics: Was this the last time KG, Pierce and Ray Allen will play together? Will Bass cash in on his $4 million player option next season and assume the role of KG’s heir, or opt out and hire Van Gundy as his agent to get a bigger payday? And just how is Team USA boss Jerry Colangelo going to justify not bringing Rondo to London for the Olympics? … Only two questions for the Heat right now: How long is Mike Miller planning to blackmail Erik Spoelstra into giving him playing time? And what exactly does Miller have on Spoelstra that allows this blackmail to happen? … If you’re a barber in the South Florida area, or if you just own a pair of clippers and have eyes, please call 1-800-UDONIS-HASLEM and find out how you can help … And now the Heat’s reward for finishing off their playoff nemesis: A best-of-seven with Russell Westbrook, who clearly thinks he’s the best player in the world; James Harden, who quietly thinks he’s the best player in the world; and Kevin Durant, who doesn’t need to think anything because he might actually be the best player in the world. And they’ve had some rest and they have a crazy homecourt advantage. Have at it, fellas … We’re out like Boston’s Big 3 …

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