LeBron James’ Blockbuster Performance Will Not Force Widespread Changes Defensively for Celtics


LeBron James' Blockbuster Performance Will Not Force Widespread Changes Defensively for CelticsWith the whole season riding on one game, the Celtics are not scrapping their gameplan for something new and entirely different in response to LeBron James' 45-point classic in Game 6.

James has had jaw-dropping offensive performances before, many against the Celtics, so coach Doc Rivers is familiar with the many tools in James' kit. Not since 2009 had James gone on a scoring spree in the playoffs like he did Thursday, so it would stand to reason that he will have a difficult time mimicking that production in Game 7 on Saturday.

The Celtics are not willing to take that chance.

"We can't assume he's not going to score 45 again, but we have to do what we're supposed to do better first," Rivers said Friday in a conference call. "Then, if we have to make changes, we will. LeBron played great, made a lot of great shots, so all the credit goes to him, but there's a better defense we can play, and it's the defense that we should have played — the one we always play."

James set a career playoff high for points in a half when he dropped 30 in the first half of Thursday's game. Paul Pierce was a casualty of those unstoppable 24 minutes, with the Celtics captain picking up three personal fouls that limited him to only 14 minutes, 27 seconds of playing time in the half.

The Heat made two clear defensive adjustments in Game 6, with Dwyane Wade spending more time covering Rajon Rondo and the post defenders forcing Kevin Garnett to catch the ball in different spots. With that in mind, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his team will not open up its offense any to create more looks for James. Rivers, for his part, said Boston will not react drastically to one game and drastically alter an approach that won the Celtics three of the first five games in this series.

"We're not going to do much," Rivers said. "We do what we do defensively, for the most part. We have to do it better."

The Celtics hope to defend James better in Game 7, but it will be the quality of their defense, not the quantity of changes, that they will count on.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him at @BenjeeBallgame.

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