LeBron James scored 45 points against the Celtics Sunday—only to be outhustled and outplayed by Paul Pierce. Pierce was stellar in the 97-92 victory, in which he scored 41 points.
In a night where Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo combined to go 10-30 from the floor, one could have easily made the case that Paul Pierce was the best player on the court. Matching LeBron's every move, Pierce was doing everything from draining threes in James' face to knocking down clutch free throws—not to mention outhustling LeBron James to recover a loose ball, in what turned out to be a pivotal moment for the Celtics.
P.J. Brown, who has been known to be a great mentor to younger players, showed that he can still have an impact on a championship-caliber team such as the Celtics. He was one of only three players on the team to score in double figures, but his biggest contribution was a 21-foot jump shot to put the Celtics up three with less than 90 seconds remaining.
Eddie House also provided a much-needed spark off the bench that helped the Celtics regain their focus. He ended the game with only four points, but added an assist, a block, a steal, a rebound, and the energy Boston needed to get past the Cavs.
LeBron's 45 points were actually the fourth-most in the history of NBA Game Sevens, but the Celtics will be the team to host Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals. They will be playing a veteran Piston team that—unlike the Celtics—has been playing together for a good five years.
The only upside for the C's is that Detroit's point guard, Chauncey Billups, will be nursing a strained right hamstring. I will admit it's not much of an upside when an All-Star player is returning to the line-up, but let's try to stay positive.