Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen watch the final minutes of Game 6 from the bench.
The Celtics' struggles were evident from the opening possession when Ray Allen had the ball knocked away by a pesky Mario Chalmers—who guarded Allen almost exclusively with both teams' starters on the floor, which freed up Dwyane Wade to check Rajon Rondo—forcing a hasty and contested three-point attempt to beat the shot clock.
For Miami, the defensive tenacity that was so conspicuous in its absence over the series' past three games returned in full force, knocking what had been an effective offensive attack well off beat.
Rondo committed seven turnovers (tying his postseason high) and Paul Pierce shot only 4-for-18 from the field, giving James and Wade plenty of opportunities to convert in transition.
The Heat converted those transition chances at a more-than-healthy 1.6 points per possession (PPP) clip on Tuesday night, but they did the most damage through isolation and post-up sets (25.5 and 14.3 percent of possessions, respectively), where they scored an average of 1.17 PPP.
Of course, most of Miami's offensive economy came thanks to No. 6.
Simply put, James was magnificent en route to a historic 45-point, 15-rebound and five-assist performance (on 19-for-26 shooting) that had Celtics fans shaking their heads and rolling their eyes all evening. The 2012 MVP hit one improbable jumper after another as he sought to avoid elimination, while the Celtics struggled to create and convert open shots.
Will the Celtics beat the Heat to advance to the NBA Finals?
The good news for Doc Rivers' squad is that James is unlikely to oblige a repeat performance, and neither is Pierce likely to shoot an abysmal 22 percent from the field with only two attempts from the charity stripe.
But going into a deciding Game 7 in Miami, Celtics fans can only hope that this isn't the band's last waltz.
All statistics courtesy of Synergy Sports.