(Sports Network) - Superstars are often held to a higher standard.
It's not necessarily fair but that is LeBron James' reality and he can either
embrace it or continue to fight it by shying away from the big moment.
The best basketball player on the planet's latest "big moment" takes place
Thursday in Boston when the Miami Heat try to stave off elimination and force
a deciding Game 7 against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
"It doesn't matter how you get there," embattled Miami coach Erik Spoelstra
said. "We still have a great opportunity. We're still alive, and we have an
opportunity to win and change the momentum of this series again. So much about
the playoffs is maintaining your perspective and your balance as a basketball
The tea leaves certainly don't look promising for Spoelstra and his team. The
Heat have dropped 15 of their last 16 on the famed parquet floor, including
seven of eight since James arrived in South Beach to form a team modeled after
the "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Beantown, a
group that led the Celtics to their record 17th NBA championship back in 2008.
Another loss at TD Garden would end a second straight season shy of a
championship for the trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and likely mean
big changes in South Florida.
The Heat are on the brink after Tuesday's 94-90 setback in Miami, their third
straight loss in the series. Paul Pierce pulled up in front of James and
drained a clutch three-pointer in the final minute of that one to help Boston
fend off the Heat.
"I thought that was the best shot for us when I saw [James] back up, and I was
able to knock it down," recalled Pierce.
The Celtics became the first team in the series to win on the road and can
advance to the NBA Finals for the third time in the five years since Garnett
and Allen joined Pierce in Beantown with another win in Game 6.
Boston was able to capture the swing game on Tuesday despite Pierce and Rajon
Rondo combining to hit just 9-of-34 (26 percent) from the field. Garnett
picked up the slack with 26 points, including two clinching free throws with
8.8 seconds left, to go along with 11 rebounds.
"He's just amazing," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said of Garnett. "He's our
life. He does so many things that don't have numbers to it."
Pierce wound up finishing with 19 points, Rondo had 13 assists and Allen and
Mickael Pietrus each chipped in 13 points to help the Celtics rally from a
double-digit deficit early on.
James recorded 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Wade added 27 points for the
Heat, who lost despite the return of All-Star forward Bosh.
Bosh, sidelined since Game 1 of the East semifinals because of a strained
lower abdominal muscle, scored nine points in the first half, but only played
four minutes after the break after struggling defensively while trying to
bottle up Garnett.
"I feel good. I definitely have more to give," Bosh said after the loss. "When
the time comes again, I'll definitely be ready to play more than I played
Tonight, Spoelstra, who was heavily criticized for playing Bosh so little in
the second half of Game 5, is considering whether to return the big man to the
"I think he'll be able to handle a bigger load of minutes," Spoelstra
remarked. "It'll be based more on how he feels during the game."
Meanwhile, Rivers is trying to stress to his team how important Game 6 is.
"We have one home game left, and that's it in this series," Rivers said
Wednesday. "We have to understand that, and we have to come with that sense of
urgency. Our guys understand that."
Of course, in the end, the subplots are just that. The real story here is
"I know how much pain this team has given me over the years," LeBron said. "I
think I guess it's only right that we will be going up there in an elimination
game. In order for us to keep our season going, we have to win in their
This is the third straight season that the Heat and Celtics are meeting in the
playoffs. Boston won in five games in 2010 in the first round and the Heat
won in five last year in the semifinals.
Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for Saturday in Miami.
The Sports Network