Let me set the scene for you here a little bit from my perspective. Game Six, 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics had defeated the Miami Heat in three straight games. Things did not look good for Boston early on, as LeBron and Miami had won the first two games of the series.
Heading into the sixth game, I felt pretty confident about the Celtics chances that night. I knew LeBron James was going to be a problem. He always seemed to show out against the Celtics in the playoffs. My Dad was also feeling pretty confident that night as well. He was a huge Celtics fan, and had grown up in the days of the Larry Bird era.
He would always tell me “Pierce, Allen, and Garnett are good, but not like the original Big Three. “ I always took that comment as an old man “Get off my lawn!” type of statement. Looking back now, he was right.
I had enjoyed this particular Celtics group. I knew that the days of the KG, Pierce and Allen era were numbered. Nevertheless hope seemed very much alive. This was their chance to close out the series instead of having to go back to Miami.
Lebron begins his “lesson”
Ray Allen begin the game with a layup, and from there it was a see-saw battle. Lebron’s first basket came at the 9:01 mark in the first quarter. He soared in for a dunk to extend the Miami lead to 8-4 at the time. That one basket was part of a 14-point quarter for James. Right away, it was clear that Boston needed to stop Lebron right away. They never were able to.
The second quarter was more of the same. Lebron had his entire bag of tricks empty for this one. He drove in the lane, he shot the three-pointer, he got to the line. By halftime, Lebron had 30. Miami lead at this point by a 55-42 margin. The Celtics had some catching up to do.
Dwayne Wade free throws at the end of the second quarter were the last points for both teams as they hit the showers.
The third and fourth quarters were more of the same. Lebron got every single shot that he wanted. James shot the three, he stopped on a dime and shot fadeaways. He single-handedly controlled the pace of the game and kept the Celtics off-balance. He was a man on a mission that night, and played in a way I haven’t really seen before or since. It was like he was part of the old NBA Jam games of the early 2000s. Once he caught fire, he was impossible to stop.
This was Lebron’s finest hour
Lebron has had many great games over the years. This game out of all of them stands out to me. James undoubtedly wanted to win this one, and help Miami get another shot at the title. At the time, the TD Garden had not been kind to the King, especially during the Cleveland days.
The efficiency at which he scored, combined with his attributes and ability to control both teams were unlike anything I had seen in quite a while. He kept the Celtics guessing, and on their toes. He put Miami on his back and said “I’ve got you guys.”
It was mesmerizing to watch, and thankfully, it worked in Miami’s favor.
Each player has a signature game that fans remember. For me, it was this one.
Dad, who was usually very vocal during the course of Celtics games was quiet for most of the night. It was almost weird to see. He knew as well as I knew that there was no stopping Lebron on this night. He knew as well as I knew that going back to Miami for a seventh game would not be easy.
Indeed, James could not be stopped. He would finish the game going 19-of-26 from the field and two-of-four from beyond the arc. With 45 points in total, he carried Miami on this night.
As a Celtics fan, I was sad to see Boston lose this one. As a basketball fan, I had to appreciate greatness.
Even my dad, a huge Celtics fan, appreciated what Lebron brought to the table that night. It was Lebron at his finest, and perhaps the best performance of his career. That’s certainly saying something.