Heat force Game 7 in Miami, crush Celtics, 98-79

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Heat force Game 7 in Miami, crush Celtics, 98-79

BOSTON For a change, there will be no questions about LeBron James' clutch factor.

When you dominate a game the way he did in Thursday's Game 6 tilt with the Boston Celtics, late-game heroics aren't needed.

James delivered one of the most dominant performances the Garden faithful have been a witness to, culminating in a 98-79 Miami Heat victory to force a winner-moves-on matchup on Saturday in Miami.

The three-time MVP, criticized for coming up short in big games, finished with 45 points with baskets coming against any and every defender Boston threw his way.

Long range jumpers. Mid-range jumpers. Put-back dunk. Lay-ups.

If there was a way to score, James managed to do it.

And his dominant play came on a night when Paul Pierce was, well, awful.

The Captain was among those struggling defensively against James. Pierce was woeful shooting the ball, missing a slew of lay-ups and jumpers all game.

He finished with just nine points on 4-for-18 shooting.

It was in a word, as bad a game you could play in a game that had so much on the line.

Just like that, all those headlines and talking points about the Celtics cruising into the NBA Finals where Oklahoma City has already punched their ticket to gone!

They will now be replaced by James and the Heat righting the ship just in time to move past a Celtics team that for the first time in this series, looked old and feeble.

With just under seven minutes to play, Miami was up by 25 points.

Yeah.

It was that ugly.

And with that, the Celtics now must do the unlikely - beat the Heat on their floor to move on to the NBA Finals.

For a team with so many prideful veterans - many of whom may not be back next year - this may be the last game they play together in front of the TD Garden fans.

But the Celtics aren't in the reminiscing mood right now, not with another shot at going to the NBA Finals at their disposal.

This was a game in which the Heat took control from the outset and never looked back. Miami pulled ahead by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, with James leading the charge.

At one point, he had almost as many points (12) by himself as the entire Celtics team (14). But unlike the previous three games - all Boston wins - he was getting some help from his teammates with Shane Battier (five points) contributing to the strong first quarter for Miami which ended with the Heat ahead, 26-16.

Miami continued to play with a comfortable double-digit lead for most of the second quarter, with James continuing to log every single minute. He didn't leave the floor until the 3:11 mark of the fourth quarter.

The three-time league MVP delivered a near flawless first half performance, scoring 30 points in the first half on 12-for-14 shooting.

Most of James' points came on jumpers from just about every angle imaginable, as the Celtics slew of defenders were seemingly defenseless against his one-man assault on the Garden.

Making matters worst for the Celtics was that the one player that seemingly made James work the hardest defensively, Paul Pierce, was limited in the first half because of three personal fouls.

Rajon Rondo did his part to keep the C's relatively close, scoring 19 first-half points as the Heat took a 55-42 lead into the half.

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new CSNPhilly.com baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.

 

 

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

BOSTON –  Like most of the NBA’s Millennials, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown is active on social media.

But if you holla at him on Twitter or Instagram these days, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back anytime soon.
 
That’s because Brown is stepping away from the social media game to better focus on his first postseason journey with the Celtics, which begins next month.
 
Brown said he isn’t the only player inside the Celtics locker room who has pledged to do things differently leading up to the playoffs.
 
More than anything, the changes Brown speaks of are symbolic to illustrate the need for everyone to make sacrifices critical for a team’s success.
 
“I’ve paid attention to that, how a lot of guys are making the sacrifices necessary to add to this team,” Brown said. “Some guys are only drinking water. Some guys are cutting out cursing or other aspects. Some guys have some personal stuff...Everybody is putting themselves in that mind frame to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.”
 
He added that taking a step back from social media was just one of a handful of changes he has made leading up to the playoffs.
 
“Some are personal, but some, just being a lot more focused and more locked in, eliminating distractions,” Brown told CSNNE.com. “This generation, we’re so social media dependent. So just eliminating that, filling that in with other stuff whether it’s gym time or film or just time to yourself instead of it being so predicated on the cell phone.”
 
Brown understands the battle Boston (48-26) is in for the top spot in the East heading into the playoffs and how important getting that would be to this team.


 
“It means a lot, especially being a rookie from my perspective, being on a team that’s number one seed in the East and being a contributor.” Brown said. “What more could you ask for, coming in to the league, coming into the NBA. It’s been great for me. It’s been a blessing.”
 
While Brown has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie, there’s no ignoring the fact that he’s progressing at a brisk rate.

“Offensively, I’m getting a little more comfortable scoring the ball; mid-range game, I’m developing,” he said. “Defensively, being in the right spot at the right time, stuff like that. I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go.”