Friday, June 8, 2012

Game 7: History in the Making

Following the trend of many closeout game 6 opportunities which the Celtics have encountered during the Big Three era, Thursday night’s game in Boston featured a similar outcome as the Celtics showed little heart and as a result were blown out by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.  LeBron lovers and haters alike must agree that LeBron played phenomenally throughout the entire night, and his 45 point, 15 rebound, and 5 assist performance can easily be heralded as the greatest playoff game of his career thus far.  LeBron was undeniably and scarily dominant, and the look on his face said it all: he was in the zone and no one would stop him.

On the other hand, the Celtics failed to respond, and the Boston crowd and players alike were lulled to sleep by James’s barrage of contested jumpers and powerful drives to the hoop.  The Celtics seemed like they gave up early, and apparently forgot that it is still entirely possible to win a game even if the other team’s star scores upwards of 40 points.  Nevertheless, you can be sure that this won’t happen again next game, and that both Boston and Miami will show up to battle with their backs against the wall in a Game 7 that will surely be a clash of the titans.

There is so much on the line for both teams.  Between the perpetual media scrutiny that LeBron, Spoelstra, and the Heat must constantly face, and the potential last game and last opportunity to win a championship for Boston’s Big Three era, Game 7 will be less like Paul Pierce’s analogy of a "good old, classic bar fight," and more like an all-out war.  The last game of this epic series, along with Games 2,4,5, and 6 will likely all be shown rather frequently on ESPN Classic someday for their respective implications and storylines.  The "Let's Go Celtics" chant that emerged from the Boston crowd despite a 20 point deficit in the final minutes of last night’s game was incredibly emotional, and will likely give the Celtics some extra fuel for their trip down to Miami.  The players and coaches know that America will be watching, and expecting 100% effort from everybody on the floor.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will also be watching, waiting, to see if the Conference Finals eerily similar to their own against San Antonio will feature a team that wins with athletic superiority and a freak of nature MVP small forward, or with experience from an older defensive-minded veteran squad led by topnotch coaching and a superstar point guard.  This year’s playoffs have featured countless epic games, and so many stellar performances from young and old squads alike.  

We have seen 23 year old Kevin Durant and his Thunder come of age, becoming the first team from the West in 14 years to make it to the NBA Finals not named the Spurs, Lakers, or Mavericks while defeating all three on the way there.  We have seen the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls ousted by #8 seeded Philadelphia.  We have seen the LA Clippers make an identity for themselves in the West, now known as “Lob City” and not just that “other team” from Los Angeles.  We have seen Rajon Rondo mature before our eyes and take the reigns of the Celtics’ franchise, still not a member of the Big Three, but rather the leader of them.  We have seen LeBron James silence his critics.  We should all feel privileged to watch this series and Game 7 tomorrow night, as we will be watching all-star players, hall of famers, and an MVP battle it out in a game that is so much more than just a game.  We will be watching history in the making.

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