MIAMI — LeBron James had an epic performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday. But what happens in Game 7 on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) will cement exactly where that performance stands in history.
If the Miami Heat win Game 7, James’ performance means more and he moves on to a duel with Kevin Durant in The Finals. If the Boston Celtics win, Game 6 is just a footnote to another disappointing postseason finish for James and the Heat, while the Celtics get a shot at banner No. 18.
The home team has won 88 (exactly 80 percent) of the 110 Game 7s in NBA history. But this series has followed no script, the Celtics won Game 5 in Miami, and a road team (the Clippers) has already won a Game 7 in these playoffs.
And really, the previous 110 Game 7s have little to do with this one. Even the six Game 7s that the Celtics’ veteran core has played together can be forgotten. This is a different series and a different opponent. And with the end of the Big Three era seemingly near, this is a new level of urgency.
The Celtics will be packed for a trip to Oklahoma City and are certainly stubborn enough to believe they can win Game 7. Their most stubborn star, Rajon Rondo, has the ability to almost single-handedly win any game he plays in.
“They beat us on our home court before,” the Heat’s Udonis Haslem said after Game 6 on Thursday. “You know we’re going to have the crowd, we’re going to have the energy, but the game is going to be played between the lines. So we’ve got to go out there and take care of business.”
Here are five things to watch for in Game 7 …
Who’s guarding whom?
Take care of the ball
Make use of the corners
HEAT WILL WIN BIG