It’s a weird time in which we’re living. We’re all sitting in quarantine wondering how many times we can clean our kitchens or watch Space Jam, and if twiddling our thumbs is a viable way to pass time. In New York, we’ve been banging pots and pans, clapping, and cheering those who are fighting this virus on the front lines every night at 7PM. Here at The Turf, we’re immensely thankful for all essential workers and what they’re doing to prevent the spread and keep us all as safe as possible. In return, the best we can think to do is revisit sports history and find ways to keep you all entertained. We have to fill that void somehow, right?
Today: LeBron James Ruins 19,000 People’s Nights
Most memories of times you went to a live sporting event are happy. Even if your team loses, it’s always fun to see them play in person, and maybe catch a glimpse of a superstar on the opposing team. Often you are with friends or family, and it’s generally a pretty positive experience.
Then there are days like June 7, 2012. That was Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.
Or, as I call it, “The Least Fun I Have Ever Had at a Sporting Event.”
I’m Not Sure What I Expected
After losing the first two games of the series in Miami, Boston had taken care of business at home. Then the Celtics escaped South Beach with a 94-90 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead and put Miami on the brink of elimination.
Though the Celtics were a win away from a trip to the NBA finals, I’m not sure what I expected as I took my seat straddling the back wall of section 318. Did I really believe that LeBron would let the Heat lose four games in a row? Would Miami really bow out of the playoffs without at least forcing a game 7 at home?
Not a chance. LeBron pulled out every trick in his bag and the Celtics got down early and trailed by double-digits for most of the game.
It was a demoralizing experience. James could not be stopped. Even when the Celtics were down by ten, it felt like they were down by 40.
There was nothing to do but sit there and watch it happen to us.
Yeah, This is Not Gonna Be Good
It became pretty apparent from the get-go that this was not going to be an enjoyable experience. LeBron was playing his part as the most terrifying basketball player to face when he is feeling good.
Boy, was he feeling good that night.
Usually, the way to beat LeBron is by making him take jump shots, keeping him out of the paint and off the free-throw line.
Not in this game. Not when he’s hitting everything in sight.
Just look at the play by play:
“LeBron James makes 2-point jump shot from 21 feet.
LeBron James makes 2-point jump shot from 6 feet.
Back to back from 14 feet and 16 feet.
LeBron James makes three-point jump shot from 25 feet.”
Nearly Impossible to Defend
James started the night 6 of 7 from the floor in the first quarter and then did the same in the second to go to halftime 12 of 14 with 30 points and the Heat up 13.
The Celtics got sloppy and started to go for shot fakes, sending him to the line or letting him drive past them. They didn’t box out for rebounds and James went soaring above the rim for a put-back dunk.
Finally, the Celtics double-teamed him, and he found Mario Chalmers for a three-pointer, one of five assists.
Still, Boston cut the deficit to ten late in the third. James, after picking up a silly technical for slamming the ball out of bounds after a layup by Rajon Rondo, hit a three-pointer to twist the knife a little deeper.
LeBron had 41 points through three quarters. Hook shots, turnarounds, fade-aways, baseline jumpers. He hit everything, no matter who was guarding him.
Pierce, Garnett, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma (remember him?). They all took their turns for Boston guarding LeBron to no avail. Rondo, despite leading the Celtics with 21 points and 10 assists, was a joke of a mismatch defensively, not to mention turning the ball over seven times.
LeBron didn’t come out of the game until there was 3:11 left in the fourth quarter and the Heat led by 22.
A Career-Defining Performance
The final stat-line for LeBron: 44:49 minutes played / 45 points / 19 of 26 (.731) from the field / 2 of 4 from three-point land / 15 rebounds / 5 assists / +22.
Paul Pierce was 4 of 18 from the floor, and 0 for 6 from behind the three-point line. As a team, the Celtics went 1of 14 from downtown.
LeBron went on to lead the Heat to a victory in Game 7 in which they outscored the Celtics 20-6 in the final 8:49. After losing the opening game of the NBA Finals to the Thunder, Miami won four straight, and LeBron had his first title.
What Else Could We Do?
In the final few minutes of Game 6, the Garden crowd accepted their fate that Boston was not going to get it done that night.
So we did the only thing we could do. To get the team pumped up for Game 7, we chanted “Let’s Go Celtics” for four straight minutes.
And that was the only fun part of the night.
See You Tomorrow. Stay Safe. Stay Smart. Wash Your Hands.
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