1010 Sports Intern Roundtable: Celtics vs. Heat – Who Takes Game 7?
We asked the 1010 Sports summer interns to give us their take on Game 7. Read all 3 takes and vote for the best at the bottom of the page.
Molly Richter, Florida State University
PREDICTION: MIAMI HEAT
The Heat and the Celtics are once again taking their talents to South Beach for Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. This comes after a dominating 98-78 performance by the Heat and a devastating loss for the Celtics, who now only have one more chance for the Big Four to possibly reach their last Finals together.
In Game 6 we were all witnesses of what LeBron James is capable of doing on his own. Even under a microscope, in a must win game, he came up huge. After putting up 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists, James is not only coming off what is most likely to be the most dominate playoff performance in his career, but perhaps the most dominate in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to put up those numbers in a playoff game. Best of all, the performance by the three-time MVP couldn’t have come at a better time, when swagger and momentum means everything.
Besides James, there are other reasons why the pendulum has swung back to Miami. Although Chris Bosh came off the bench, he still managed to play 28 minutes and he had a pivotal impact for the Heat side with what looked like little to no pain. A semi-healthy Bosh is able to open lanes for both James and Wade that Udonis Haslem struggled with in his absence. Having yet to live up to the hype which they have brought upon themselves, James and Wade especially will need to execute together effectively if they are to begin to silence the everlasting critics. James having another performance like Game 6 is unlikely, however if Wade and Bosh disappear like they have in previous games this season, James may need another to have another game of this caliber in order to close out this series. Being back surrounded by the crowd cheering them on in all white and sleeping in their own beds won’t hurt either.
There is no question that Boston struggled in Game 6. Rajon Rondo, who has had the biggest impact of all Celts players in this season’s playoffs, has proven that he cannot do it alone. Even after coming off a stellar performance in Game 2, scoring 44, the Heat still managed to pull out a victory in overtime. Rondo simply needs more help from the Big Three in Game 7, Paul Pierce especially. Pierce was silent last night, making only 4 of 18 shots. However if history is to repeat itself, we can expect Pierce to have a big game on Saturday. When facing elimination, Pierce manages to average more than 20 points and be more than 44% accurate when shooting. Similar to the Oklahoma City Thunder, if Boston is to come back from the 2-0 deficit in these Conference Finals they’ll need to show some intensity that we haven’t seen yet by them this series. If Boston can limit James to his usual performance without utilizing the double team, limit turnovers on offense, and Pierce demonstrates his clutch gene of the past, Boston will be disappointing plenty of fans in Miami.
However, it seems to all come down to LeBron James. If the King can come out and play to his full potential with energy comparable to Game 6, keep Pierce from taking over the game offensively on defense, and shut down Kevin Garnett’s points in the paint, the Heat will no doubt be flying to Oklahoma City to face Kevin Durant in The Finals. Oh, the pressure.
My Prediction: Miami – 92 Boston – 85
Jason Clary, University of Central Florida
PREDICTION: MIAMI HEAT
LeBron James. Game 6 was an incredible game from LBJ. This was the first time that he truly carried this team when it mattered most. You can say whatever you want about his performance in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line, but this entire game was the 4th quarter for the Heat.
This entire game mattered and LeBron showed exactly why he was the MVP of the regular season. Miami went into Boston and stole game 6. Game 7 is being played on Miami’s home court which is a distinct advantage — especially in a game 7.
Before this game, I mentioned that if Miami lost, head coach Eric Spoelstra should be fired. It took Miami five games before it realized that LeBron needs to be in motion when somebody else is handling the ball.
During an offensive possession, you do not benefit from everyone standing around. How do you think Ray Allen gets open looks? It isn’t because he moves well with the ball. The Celtics run multiple screens on one play for him. Once the second or third player screens the man guarding Allen, he is already turning around for a quick-look three point shot.
When the game has been on the line, Spoelstra has not done his job, as the head coach, in drawing up plays that take advantage of having two of the best players in the NBA. The game plan in game 6 allowed Miami to utilize its athleticism to control the tempo of the game.
Let’s be honest, Miami’s win wasn’t a good example of playing team basketball. LeBron’s dominance was the reason Miami won. I do give credit for the rest of the Heat’s supporting cast for hitting timely shots and getting in LeBron’s way during his 45-point walloping.
Can Boston respond and win game 7? They absolutely could. However, I don’t see that happening when Miami completely took the wind from the Celtics’ sails after stealing game 6 at TD Garden.
Looking at the momentum, the advantage goes to Miami. Game 7 will be played in Miami — advantage Miami. Age and fresh legs — advantage Miami. Talent — advantage Miami. The Heat have a lot going for them heading into another make-or-break game.
If LeBron and the Heat had it their way, this series would have ended at the end of game four. If Miami wins the game, it’s expected. If Boston wins, Miami will go home disappointed once again.
So much was just expected from the Heat once the “big three” was constructed. It is almost surreal seeing the Heat having to prove themselves.
Overall, LeBron had an incredible performance in game 6 and as the momentum shifts back into Miami’s favor, I expect the Heat to take game 7.
Cassandra Khan, University of South Florida
PREDICTION: MIAMI HEAT
Even before tip-off LeBron James had a certain look in his eyes that none of us had seen before. What we saw last night was a different LeBron James. Out of nowhere his demeanor became one of a leader, of a “clutch” player. If this really is the new LeBron, and this same man shows up at Amway on Saturday night, then the Celtics better start booking their tee times.
James was determined. He wasn’t going to let his team lose in Boston. He gave a hall of fame-like performance where he scored 45 points, had 15 rebounds, and 5 assists. Dwayne Wade added 17 quiet buckets, and the supporting cast totaled 36 points.
The Miami defense set the tone for the game though. They were able to get the turnovers and blocks that they needed. Rajon Rondo, who has been killing the Heat in this series, had 19 points in the first half, but finished the game with only 21.
The Celtics struggled in game 6, especially Paul Pierce who scored only 9 points and was 4-18 in field goals. Do NOT expect this to happen in game 7.
Paul Pierce and the Celtics are a veteran team. Some call them old, but after watching this series they have shown us that they came to play. They have a world class coach in Doc Rivers. They will not allow themselves to play like they did in Boston.
Paul Pierce, AKA “The Truth”, will not have two consecutive games playing like he did, no matter how old he is. Analysts are saying that the Celtics are done because they looked tired, they looked old, and they looked ready for the series to be over by the end of the game when they were getting beat by 20 points.
Come on, if they were really that old and unable to play a seven game series, they would not be playing in the NBA right now. Rajon Rondo has been playing like a mad man this series. Paul Pierce came up clutch in game 5 in Miami, and Kevin Garnett has been dominating in the post. Not to mention they have a future Hall of Famer in Ray Allen. They are crafty, veteran, and always dangerous.
That being said, the Heat offense, as a team, is not as good as it should be. Apart from LeBron, the rest of the team was 18 for 50 from the floor. 18 for 50. And that includes Dwayne Wade. Yes, LeBron James had a great game, but the Heat can’t expect him to score 45 every night. They need to get back to the type of play where Wade and James were both involved, making great passes and shots. Maybe Wade needs his knee drained again. Whatever it takes.
I expect this to happen. LBJ’s presence in Boston was contagious, his demeanor spread throughout the locker room. The team didn’t like the way the media wrote them off as dead after the game 5 loss in Miami, and it fueled them to prove themselves in Boston.
The Heat are happy to be headed back to Miami, but this time there is a little more urgency within the team. They know Boston is capable of beating them in Miami—they did it already.
The tell of whether or not the Heat could continue this type of play for game 7 happened during LeBron’s post game press conference. I was curious to see if he still had the fire in his eyes or if he was back to his old LeBron self. After finishing a chapter in his book he sat down at the podium. The fire was still there.
Game 7 will be a brutal battle till the last second. Both teams have a lot of respect for each other, and they will play like it. The Celtics will put up a good fight, but in the end the Heat’s defense and dynamic duo of James and Wade will be too much to handle.
For this I credit the media for waking up the slumbering duo. As Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra says, nobody likes getting thrown dirt on your face before you’re not even dead.