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Friday, June 8, 2012

It’s Over

The Boston Celtics had a ticket to the NBA Finals in their hands going into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. It was never punched. Fueled by LeBron’s James’ historic 45 point, 15 rebound, 5 assist effort, the Heat avoided elimination and sent the series back to Miami for a deciding Game 7 on Saturday.


Here are some cold, hard facts for Celtics fans about Saturday’s game.
  • Home team record in an NBA Game 7, all-time: 88-22 *
  • Miami’s last Game 7 loss at home: 2005 **
  • Boston’s last Game 7 win on the road: 1969 **
  • Number of Game 7 wins, all-time, by the road team following four straight home team wins followed by two straight road team wins: 0 * 
Sources: *, **Yahoo! Sports


One can say that what is in the past is in the past and that it does not affect the present. That may, in fact, be true. But historical trends are hard to ignore once the evidence piles up high enough. Correlation is not causation but, over time, it is reasonable to factor it into one’s expectation.

Still the Celtics have some very present day problems working against them. The Heat are simply better on their home floor, period. The Heat won 70% of their games in the regular season; they won 85% at home. The Heat are 11-6 in the 2012 playoffs; they are 7-2 at home.

The Celtics are simply…bad…on the road this year. In the regular season, they won just under 60% of their games; they only won 45% of their road games. In the playoffs, their road record is 3-6. They have not won back-to-back road playoff games at all in the playoffs.

The last game that involved Boston stealing a Game 7 in someone else's barn featured Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. 3

You’re tired of hearing about the home court advantage for the Heat, which is substantial? Celtics Fan still has a lot to worry about. The Celtics are an older team and the fatigue was evident in Game 6 and the Celtics were out run, out physicaled, and out hustled from start to finish. Now they have to travel to Miami and play a game with only one day of rest.

Celtics guard Ray Allen is nursing a bad ankle and appeared to be invisible in Game 6 (if such a thing is possible). Paul Pierce could not buy a bucket when it mattered. Kevin Garnett appeared to be contained. This is not likely to improve in Game 7 because the weapon Miami had in Game 6 that it did not have in Games 1-4 and the second half of Game 5 is forward Chris Bosh. Bosh made the lane and the wings less comfortable for Boston’s key offensive threats. He will also be two more days removed from the abdominal injury that kept him out of most of the this series and the last series (against the Indiana Pacers).
This should be waiting at the Celtics' gate at the Miami airport. 2


Of course, if LeBron James plays half as well in Game 7 as he did in the first half of Game 6, there is no need for a discussion; the Celtics will not have a chance. Even if The King does have an average to below average game, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been like sleeping bears in this series. A Game 7, all-or-nothing affair at home is probably going to awaken them if anything will.

Finally, I think Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is not getting a fraction of the credit he deserves. He outcoached Doc Rivers, badly, in Game 6. Rivers was never able to adjust to what the Heat were doing, notwithstanding James’ monster performance. Personally, I think he outcoached Rivers in every game except for Game 5, which Boston snatched in Miami to go up 3-2.

The game can be helped by coaching, but is ultimately won or lost by the execution of the players. Last night’s disappearance by the Celtics (and their crowd) allowed the momentum to completely shift over to the Heat players, coaching staff, and fans. The body is still warm, but being forced to overcome all three of those factors (coaches, players, fans) leads me to believe the Celtics are dead.
It is going to take more than some jackass wasting his Samuel Adams to stop LeBron. 1

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