By Matt Noonan
It maybe time to accept the fact that finally, yes finally, LeBron James will actually beat the Boston Celtics.
Monday’s Game 4 exhibited the fact that the Celtics are old, tired and washed up. They don’t have a true “sixth-man” and have relied way too much on Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, which leaves us to wonder, can this group of veterans comeback and win this series, despite trailing the Heat, 3-1? The task is a daunting one, but definitely something Doc Rivers and his team is ready to attempt, right?
Yet besides the ailing Celtics, the biggest question is will James actually beat the Celtics in the playoffs?
James has played in 80 playoff games since ‘06 and has won 49 of them, which includes Miami’s three most recent victories against Boston. Although against the Celtics, James has struggled immensely.
In ’08, James scored 45 points in 46 minutes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals (practically a point a minute), but came up short in the closing seconds.
In ’10, James and the Cavaliers not only watched their exceptional season go down the drain, but also suffered another postseason loss to Boston in the semi-finals.
Now, one year removed from technically “quitting” against the Celtics, James is one win away from exercising all those demons that continuously haunt him at night. That’s right, he and his teammates, or should I say, the “modern day Big-3,” have the Celtics on the edge of the cliff and just need to push back at them, but, is James ready to actually knock off the Celtics? Can he finally do it?
He admitted prior to Game 1 that this series was “personal” and that he hated losing to Boston. Yes, the Celtics have had his number in the previous postseason meetings, but this year, James has been completely unstoppable and the reason for that is because he’s playing with another talented and possible first ballot hall of famer, Dwyane Wade. Between him and Wade, they have practically combined for roughly all of Miami’s points, as well as helped NBA fans understand that LeBron all along needed an additional “stud” to beat Boston in the playoffs.
In Cleveland, James was always the focal point of the Cavaliers offense, which allowed coaches to draw up schemes that would force him to utilize his former teammates, such as Delonte West, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. Although, while James’s role players weren’t flashy, they did at times play a major part in scoring baskets and stealing the ball from their opponents, but again, they didn’t have the capability to compliment his efforts.
So, last July, James announced on national television that he was going to “take his talents to South Beach,” where he joined Wade and Chris Bosh to form the NBA’s newest “Big-3” tandem. Yet, while the three all-stars struggled out of the gates, they eventually worked out all the kinks and landed a second place spot in the Eastern Conference standings, as well as beat Philadelphia in round one of the playoffs, 4-1.
James knows deep down that Game 5 is his game. I’m sure, everyone in the Heat organization will say, “Go out there and make us proud,” but seriously, James wants this more than his teammates. Beating Boston could perhaps be what he needs to get over the hump and finally, yes finally, win a championship.
Game 5 will be exciting and while all Bostonians and New Englanders continue to keep their fingers crossed extra tightly for the Celtics to prevail with a win, they should at least honor the fact that they still have LeBron’s number. He may or may not beat Boston, but if he does, it might be time to possibly embrace the King himself and cheer him onto winning a championship. Although, if James does actually beat Boston, he’ll officially be added to that long list of sports stars who will never be embraced in the Hub.