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Teammates left in awe

He could stomach more playing time

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 8, 2012
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Somehow, as much as the adjectives piled up, it didn’t seem like hyperbole. Not when LeBron James’s teammates were talking about his 45-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist performance in Game 6 against the Celtics Thursday night at TD Garden.

Asked if that was the best he had ever seen James, Dwyane Wade said, “Yes.’’

He added, “He played amazing. He was locked in from the beginning of the game like I’ve never seen him before. The shots he was making was unbelievable. Some good defense, and he just made it.

“So he really put on an MVP performance tonight. Not just scoring the ball, but rebounding the ball, defensively. He did it all tonight.’’

The same words kept coming up. Amazing. Phenomenal. Aggressive. Unbelievable.

That’s what James brought and that’s what his team needed on a night they could have been eliminated.

“The best I’ve seen, one of the best this league has ever seen,’’ Chris Bosh said. “He’s helped us a lot so we can live to play another day.’’

James set the tone early, a departure for a Heat team that has often gotten off to slow starts. Not that the Heat can continue to allow James to be everything. He does need a bit of support, as Miami gets set for Game 7.

James had treated it as a “business’’ trip, as Shane Battier said. And that was part of what allowed him to put on his spectacular show.

“He’s really been locked in,’’ Wade said. “He’s been playing unbelievable in the playoffs. He’s taken it upon himself. He’s been MVP of the league right now. He’s showcasing it on a nightly basis. It’s a joy to watch it, but also we have to help him a lot more.’’

Plan of attack

Kevin Garnett has been his usual self on defense, roaming the paint and altering shots throughout the series. With Garnett on the floor, the Celtics were outscoring opponents by nearly 13 points per 100 possessions, according to BasketballValue.com. With Garnett on the bench, Boston had been outscored by almost 30 points per 100 possessions.

“He’s a big part of what they do,’’ said Wade. “When he’s out of the game, we try to attack a lot more. He does a great job of mirroring us and being a backline defense at the rim.

“When he’s out of the game, it’s a smaller lineup, so we try to attack a lot more. When he’s in the game, we’ve got to figure out a way to attack with him on the court.’’

Clogging the lanes

The Heat’s second bus arrived about half an hour late after getting stuck in the traffic that paralyzed the area around the Garden. “We were joking before the game, the bus driver took us on a nice tour of Boston,’’ Battier said. “It was some creative routes they were taking. Must have been a Celtics fan.’’ . . . Wade again had a slow start against the Celtics, scoring just 6 of his 17 points in the first half. And he didn’t shoot well, finishing 6 for 17 from the field. “I’m not going to worry about that,’’ Wade said. “I’m not in an individual’s mind state. I’m doing whatever I can to help us win. Certain shots hopefully I make that I missed tonight. If not, I’ll still make an impact on the game. I’m not a one-dimensional player.’’ . . . Ronny Turiaf started the first three games at center for the Heat, but didn’t play in Games 4 and 5. Joel Anthony started in the middle in Game 4, but didn’t play in Game 5, when Udonis Haslem got the nod at center. Haslem (6 points, 9 rebounds) started at center again Thursday night while Turiaf (three minutes) and Anthony (four) saw garbage-time action . . . Though the Heat were shooting just 66.9 percent from the free throw line in the series, coach Erik Spoelstra was more concerned with just getting to the line. “That’s been a bigger indicator for our success,’’ he said before the game. Since attempting 47 free throws in Game 2, the Heat made it to the line 20, 24, 25, and 22 times in Games 3-6.

Globe correspondent Alex Prewitt contributed to this report.

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