Celtics-Heat Game 6 review: LeBron and co. prevail

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Celtics-Heat Game 6 review: LeBron and co. prevail

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."

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”