LeBron James was lackluster compared to his Game 6 performance last Thursday. However, Saturday night, arguably the league’s best player performed just barely good enough to lead the Miami Heat to a Game 7 victory at home over the aging Boston Celtics. James scored 31 points on 9 of 21 shooting, adding a single three pointer for good measure. He snatched up 12 rebounds but failed to distribute the ball evenly like he normally does. James must be better against the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom the Heat will begin an intense series with at 9pm on Tuesday. In that series, James will likely have to be the primary defender on Kevin Durant, a player much younger and more dynamic than the fossilized Paul Pierce. Pierce was limited once again against the Heat on Saturday evening, shooting just 7 of 18 for 19 points. Throughout the series, Pierce’s shot never fell. It is unclear if it was because Battier and James did a terrific job limiting his opportunities or if Pierce himself has just simply lost a step.
Dwayne Wade once again deferred to James but still scored 23. Wade also picked up 6 boards and handed out 6 assists. Chris Bosh shot 8 of 10 including a surprising 3 treys. He scored 19 off the bench to go with 8 rebounds in 31 minutes. Bosh looked as healthy as ever and will be one of the most important pieces against the young Thunder team whose frontcourt dominated the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder will open the series as 5 point home favorites. The Thunder and the Heat met twice during the regular season, splitting the season series 1-1 with each home team winning. Notable, however, is that Kevin Durant shot 55% and 52% against the Heat each time while LeBron James, who beat out Durant for this year’s MVP honors, shot 47%. If any team has the toolkit to deal with James’ resurgence, it is the Thunder who have Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins guarding the hoop. Look for Thabo Sefelosha to D-up Dwayne Wade and get into his head early and often.