MIAMI — There have been six games played in this series, three won by each team. You can argue that the Celtics have played better in four of them — Games 2, 3, 4, and 5 — while Miami was dominant in Games 1 and 6. The Celtics lost Game 2 in overtime, a game in which Rajon Rondo went off for 44 points.
That’s how we got here, but no one really knows what to expect in a winner-take-all Game 7. Boston talk radio and national television shows are an indicator of just how varied opinions are in the series. When the Celtics win, they’re a better team than Miami. When they lose, they’re too old and too tired, and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are just too talented. So which is it?
Celtics coach Doc Rivers took issue after Game 6 with the perception that his team didn’t show up Thursday night.
“That’s basketball, man,” said Rivers. “Sometimes you show up and ‑‑ I don’t think our guys were thinking of the magnitude of the game, honestly. Guys wanted to. I don’t think one guy showed up tonight and said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to play well.'”
It’s basketball. There are 48 more minutes of it left in this series. Both teams are sure as heck going to show up. Let’s play.
Here are the details for tonight’s game:
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m.
Series: Series tied, 3-3
Broadcast info: ESPN, WEEI/850 AM/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kevin Garnett
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Shane Battier
C: Udonis Haslem
Officials: Joe Crawford, Mike Callahan, Scott Foster
Challenge everything: If LeBron James is going to score 45 points again in Game 7, the Celtics better at least make it more difficult for him. Sure, the shot-making was incredible, but the Celtics didn’t challenge his catches enough. They didn’t bring enough help. The Celtics have traditionally been OK with letting one guy get his so long as they shut down the others, and that’s fine. But they need to find some way to get James’ attempts up and his makes down, whether that’s with physical play, help from different areas, or something else.
Assists/turnovers: The Celtics had one assist in the first quarter of Game 6 compared to five turnovers. It’s obviously hard to get assists when you don’t make shots, but the Celtics shot 41 percent in the first quarter, making seven field goals. One assist on seven field goals is a poor percentage no matter how poorly you shoot.
Involve Pierce, Garnett: Paul Pierce missed six 3-pointers and took just two free throws in Game 6. That’s a problem. Kevin Garnett got 14 shots, and many of them were makeable, but he can still be an even bigger focus of the offense. That’s on Rajon Rondo, who needs to run the show like we’ve seen him do so many times.