LeBron James has played 8 playoff games with his team facing elimination, and is 2-6 in those games.The Miami Heat will try and stay alive tonight against the Boston Celtics (ESPN, 8:30 ET), and it certainly will not be an easy task. According to Elias, the Celtics are 22-5 (.815) over the last 30 seasons in games in which they had an opportunity to clinch a playoff series at home. A look at the most significant storylines for each team entering Game 6:
One key for the Heat tonight will be attacking the rim. During this postseason, Miami has seen its percentage of field goal attempts inside five feet drop as the game goes on. In the first quarter, 33.1 percent of the Heat's attempts are within five feet, but that percentage dips to 25.6 in the fourth quarter.
In turn, Miami’s win percentage drops dramatically as it attempts more 3-pointers. In the last two seasons including playoffs, the Heat have won 53 percent of their games when attempting 20+ 3-point field goals, but have won 77 percent of their games when attempting fewer than 20.
Team Win Pct When Facing Elimination
3-Time NBA MVP Winners
The Heat's transition game will be another point of emphasis. Miami is tied for second among playoff teams with 225 transition points, but has been outscored on the break in all six of its playoff losses including a 19-8 deficit in Game 5.
LeBron James certainly has a tough task ahead of him; in his career, James has played eight playoff games with his team facing elimination, and his team is merely 2-6 in those games. Among 3-time NBA MVP winners, that's the worst winning percentage by a large margin according to Elias.
In Celtics franchise history, Boston has won 94.7 percent of its postseason series when leading 3-2. In addition, the Celtics are 6-1 all-time at home against the Heat in the postseason. They have faltered recently, however, as the last time the Celtics lost a series after leading 3-2 was in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Lakers.
The Celtics have two chances to win the series, but they’ve often struggled in their first opportunity to close out a series since 2008. In their first chance, Boston is 3-10 over that stretch, including 0-2 this postseason. However, they’ve been better at their second attempt going 7-3. If the Celtics win, it will mark their third NBA Finals appearance in the last five seasons, which would tie the Los Angeles Lakers for the most over that span.
Boston will be relying heavily on Paul Pierce, especially in the waning minutes, as this postseason Pierce has been the most clutch player in the NBA. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or OT with the score margin within five points, Pierce is shooting an NBA-best 63.2 percent from the field (min. 10 attempts).