OFFSEASON

Bosh shoots Boston out of playoffs with big Game 7

789086.jpg

Bosh shoots Boston out of playoffs with big Game 7

MIAMI LeBron James may have been the best player in the Eastern Conference finals, but the biggest reason for their 101-88 Game 7 clinching win over the Boston Celtics?

Chris Bosh!

His 19 points off the bench, maybe more than anything else done by the Heat, was what catapulted them into the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

"Game ball automatically goes to him," said LeBron James. "Without his production tonight, we don't win."

Among his 19 points was not one, not two, but three, 3-pointers.

Boston led most of the first quarter, but Bosh tied the game at 30 with a 3-pointer. With the score tied at 73 going into the fourth, Bosh hit a 3-pointer that put the Heat ahead, 76-75, less than a minute into the quarter. His last 3-pointer came at the 7:17 mark, and it was indeed the biggest one of the night.

It gave Miami an 86-82 lead, the first time either team led by more than one possession in the quarter. From there, the Heat continued to pull away for the win that advances them to the NBA Finals where they'll face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

To put Bosh's 3-ball of a game in perspective, consider this:

He only made 10 3's throughout the entire season, in 35 attempts.

James said he recognized how Kevin Garnett would slide over towards the paint to try and limit his driving ability to the lane.

"So when I seen that happen," James said, "I just kicked it to him, and he just lined it up and made it."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said there was a reason behind Bosh getting so many good looks on those corner 3's.

"We needed Bosh's guy to help slow down LeBron, if you want to simplify it," Rivers said.

Despite his lack of 3's during the regular season, Bosh says it has been a shot that's been in his repertoire all season.

"I've been practicing those things all year," he said. "We kind of knew in big-game situations that they were going to be open, and I would be able to shoot it without hesitation."

And shoot it he did.

And with it, he shot the Celtics out of the playoffs for the second straight season.

"Listen, if that's what's going to beat you, if you had told me that before the game - not taking anything away from Bosh, he can shoot - but when their five (center) is beating you with the 3-point shot honestly, I think we would take it," Rivers said. "He was the X-factor. He gave them exactly what they needed."

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of six teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors, it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. They're the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens though, the Celtics are in the race. Fans might be disappointed after Thursday night, but we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA