Tonight marks one of the best situations in all of professional sports: when two teams are so evenly matched that they take a seven game series all the way to the final buzzer. Even better are the story lines that go with each team.
The Celtics, with their aging stars seemingly reborn this series, are not going to be overwhelmed by the moment. Most of them have a ring and know that getting a second means winning a tough game in South Beach tonight.
The Heat are struggling with the team concept of basketball, relying heavily on individual performances to win games. LeBron James has had Jordan-like games already this series, and he may need another one tonight to win the series.
What happens if the Heat lose? James surely will have many questions to answer, but they will be amplified tenfold because of the way he ended up in Miami in the first place. He scored 30 points in the first half of Game 6, effectively beating the Celtics on his own.
But can he do it again?
Celtics coach Doc Rivers will make adjustments, and force another Heat player to beat them tonight. James is good enough to get his stats, but the Celtics will try to double him more and provide weak side help to limit James offensively.
That means the Heat will look to Dwyane Wade. Robin to James' Batman, Wade can take games over as well. The only problem, however, is he has not shown much offense in the first half of games this series. He will need to take better shots to ensure he is giving himself the best chance to be effective.
The Celtics will need Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to play better. KG has been a monster in this series, but had his worst performance in Game 6, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds. Pierce is shooting just 33 percent from the field. Hitting a huge three over LeBron may be what he needs to get going.
All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo has already posted three 20/10 games this series. He is going to need another phenomenal game tonight. The Heat don't have anyone who matches up with Rondo very well. I expect him to score 30 points tonight.
Chris Bosh will be in the lineup for the Heat, but how effective he will be remains to be seen. If nothing else, he needs to try to disrupt Garnett's game. He did a great job in Game 6, limiting KG's looks at the basket and boxing him out on the offensive glass. Bosh should be using all six fouls he has to give, especially if he struggles offensively again.
This game has everything you want in a Game 7. It has story lines with players and coaches alike, superstars on both sides with a lot on the line, and two teams who are evenly matched. I think the Celtics will pull off the upset and walk away from American Airlines Arena headed back to the NBA Finals. Rondo will be the game's MVP with over 30 points and 20 assists.
Whatever the outcome, it will be a very entertaining game, and I can't wait to see how it plays out.
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