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2012 NBA Playoffs, Celtics Vs. Heat: LeBron's First Half Was Close To Perfect

Last night in Boston, the Miami Heat forced a game seven with a 98-79 victory over the Celtics. LeBron James was the catalyst, producing one of the greatest playoff performances in NBA history. James had 45 poins on 19-for-26 shooting with 15 rebounds and five assists.

He dropped 30 points in the first half, tying an NBA playoff record. As Diego Quezada of Peninsula Is Mightier wrote:

Coming into this game with a tremendous amount of pressure, LeBron James responded with a magnificent game to lead the Heat in a 98-89 win. He a nearly impeccable first half, scoring 30 points and making 12 of his first 13 shots. He made a series of contested jumpers, worked well out of the post and even had a nasty tip-dunk in the second quarter. On the other side of the court, James guarded Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett at different times. To put it simply, he had a half for the ages. James missed a few shots in the third, but still made a number of big-time baskets, always responding when the Celtics threatened with a mini-run.

Over at Celtics Blog, Evans Clinchy says that LeBron's epic performance covered up some not-so-epic turns by his teammates:

The Heat's three-time MVP was so dominant that his lackluster teammates went unnoticed. It was an afterthought that Dwyane Wade missed 10 of his first 12 shots, that Chris Bosh still wasn't his normal self, that Mario Chalmers' play was scatterbrained on both ends, that Mike Miller was a complete no-show. Wade in particular got a lucky bailout -- it was his fourth consecutive game missing the majority of his shots, and several of them were embarrassing ones. Layups. Open jumpers with LeBron double-teamed. Looks he should have made -- but no one noticed or cared, because LeBron covered up every Miami miscue.

Stick with this StoryStream for news and updates throughout the Eastern Conference Finals. For more analysis and discussion on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. Visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston for the opponent's perspective during the series. For all your Conference Finals analysis, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.