BOSTON So much for Chris Bosh being an X-factor in Game 6.
Bosh, like most of the Miami Heat players, was more of a decoy as LeBron James carried the day in leading Miami to a 98-79 victory to force a winner-moves-on Game 7 matchup in Miami on Saturday.
Even with James dominating the game in every facet - he had 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists - he understood that by no means was Miami's series-tying victory solely about his off-the-charts performance.
"As an individual you can't do it by yourself," he said. "No matter what my numbers was tonight, nowhere we would have won this game if the other 14 guys weren't in tune and wasn't focused about us trying to win this game."
Among those was Bosh, who is still working his way back into shape after missing nine straight games with an abdominal strain injury.
Game 6 was his second game back.
"Everything is good," Bosh said. "To me, it's all in the mind so i just try to make sure I just keep my mind where it's supposed to be. No matter how I feel, I go out there and give my minutes, play has hard as I can and just worry about everything after the game."
Bosh didn't have as big an impact as expected, but there were a number of other factors not named LeBron Raymone James that played a role in Boston's loss. Here's how some of those keys identified earlier, actually played out.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Keeping Dwyane Wade in check in the first half has been a huge factor in Boston being in control of this series. He's averaging 22 points per game in the Conference finals, but only 5.8 of those points has come in the first half. More significant, he's connecting on just 27.5 percent of his shots in the first half, shooting 40 percent or less in every game thus far.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston continued to keep Wade bottled up in the first half of games, limiting him to just six points on 1-of-6 shooting. But Wade continued to be at his best in the second half, scoring eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Chris Bosh: For the first time in the postseason, Kevin Garnett will not have a decisive advantage at the center position. In many ways, Garnett will have to deal with a mirror-image of himself in Bosh only younger. Both will score points, but the edge will go to which player does a better rebounding the ball.
WHAT WE SAW: For whatever reason, Garnett - like the rest of the Celtics - simply didn't have it going on in Game 6. He scored just 12 points - his lowest scoring game in this series. As for Bosh, he came off the Heat bench and scored seven points to go with six rebounds in just over 28 minutes.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Three-time league MVP LeBron James is a must-see every game, but he's especially eye-grabbing in elimination games for all the wrong reasons. Between his years in Cleveland and Miami, James has been in eight elimination games and has emerged victorious just two times. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, James has averaged just 24.3 points in his last three elimination games. Not only are those numbers down from what he usually does scoring-wise in the playoffs, but those last three games? They all ended with James' team losing.
WHAT WE SAW: LeBron James was on a level that reduced the Boston Celtics to nothing but witnesses to his greatness. He had a blistering 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in what will be remembered for years to come as one of the all-time great individual playoff performances. "He was absolutely fearless tonight," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "And it was contagious."
STAT TO TRACK: Bench play tends to pick up at home, which bodes well for a Celtics' second unit that is coming off its first game in this series in which they outscored their Heat backup brethren, 19-16. Between Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling, the C's defensive duo has stepped up their game offensively by averaging 13 points off the bench in the Celtics last two games.
WHAT WE SAW: It was a low-energy night for the Celtics, bench players included. While they outscored their Heat brethren 15-13, most of those points came when the game was out of reach. "They outplayed us in every category," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. "Bottom line."