Celtics, Heat set for Game 7

The Heat's LeBron James dunks early in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics in Miami.
The Heat's LeBron James dunks early in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics in Miami. (J. MERIC / Getty Images)

The series comes down to one final battle after LeBron James' 45-point effort.

Posted: June 10, 2012

Miami's LeBron James has no idea what he will do for an encore. He offered a simple vow instead.

"I won't regret Game 7," James said.

There may not have been another sentiment the Miami Heat would have preferred hearing more as they prepare to host the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.

James is coming off a season-saving 45-point, 15-rebound, five-assist effort in Boston's TD Garden to force Game 7. The winner will head to Oklahoma City to start the NBA Finals Tuesday night, and the loser heads into an offseason of uncertainty.

"Win, lose, or draw, I'm going to go in with the mind-set like I've had this whole season," James said. "And you know, we'll see what happens."

A series that has gone back and forth - Miami won the first two games, then lost three straight before James carried the Heat to a win that denied Boston the East crown Thursday night - comes down to an ultimate game.

For the Heat, it's a chance to play for the ring they couldn't win last year in the opening act of the Big Three era. For the Celtics, it's probably one last chance for their current core to reach the NBA's mountaintop.

"This team has been about adversity all year long, you know, so this is not going to be nothing new," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "It's been tough for us all year long to get to the point where we would be at, and why wouldn't it be tough now?"

It's the 111th time a best-of-seven NBA series has gone the distance. Home teams are 88-22 in the previous matchups.

That means little to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. The last time Boston was on his team's court, the Celtics sputtered offensively and still managed to leave with a win, taking Game 5 to put Miami on the brink.

The Heat are still there. Only this time, so are the Celtics.

If James has the same game he had Thursday, the Celtics will have to beat him at his best.

The reigning MVP put on a show in Game 6. The expression on James' face barely changed all night - after makes, after misses, even after a drink got dumped on him while leaving the court not long after the final buzzer of Miami's 98-79 win. He made 19 of 26 shots, and his 30 first-half points matched an NBA season high. His 45 points were second-most in Heat playoff history.

"Sometimes superstars get hot," Pierce said.

"He's been playing unbelievable," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.

Of course, if the Heat lose on Saturday, that performance will soon be forgotten.

Harassment suit settled

The attorney for a former Golden State Warriors employee who accused former star guard Monta Ellis of sexual harassment says a settlement has been reached in her lawsuit against the team.

Burt Boltuch, the attorney for Erika Smith, told the Associated Press that he is not allowed to discuss specifics of the settlement, which was reached last month. Boltuch said discussions with the Warriors' attorneys began shortly after Ellis was traded from the Warriors to the Milwaukee Bucks in March.

Erika Smith worked as community relations director for the Warriors. She accused Ellis of sending her unwanted text messages that included a photo of his genitals and said the team's owners attempted to cover up his actions.

Game 6 a TV ratings hit

The Heat's win to stay alive against the Celtics has drawn the highest preliminary television rating for an NBA playoff game on cable since records started being kept in 2003.

Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday on ESPN produced an 8.2 overnight rating. The previous high was a 7.9 for Sunday's Game 4. The network said Friday the 8.2 was up 49 percent from the most recent conference finals Game 6 on ESPN, Boston-Orlando in 2010.

- Associated Press

NBA Report

Game 7

Eastern Conference finals

Celtics at Heat, Saturday at 8:30 p.m. TV: ESPN

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