This can’t really be happening again, can it? It’s been 10 years since Boston’s epic collapse in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Yet, the memories from that series still haunt me to this very day. Although the nightmares had subsided for a while, Boston’s 2022 Eastern Conference Finals performance has brought them right back to the surface.
This is not how it was supposed to go. Following a dominant Game 5 win in Miami, the Celtics were supposed to wrap this puppy up on Friday night. It was the perfect scenario. Game 6, coming off of a dominant road win. At home in Boston, with quite possibly the most rowdy fans and atmosphere in all of basketball.
The Miami Heat with their backs against the walls. Injured and beat up beyond repair. They were on life support, and the Celtics were supposed to be the ones to pull the plug. That was until Jimmy Butler happened, of course.
With hope all but lost, with momentum and fate opposing him. Jimmy Butler had an all-time playoff performance. He put the Heat on his back and quite literally carried them to victory. Butler finished with 47 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals. He shot 55.2% from the floor, 100% from free throw line, and pulled double duty dominating on the defensive end as well. He did it all for Miami in Game 6, and it is for that reason that the Heat live to fight another day.
Playoff career-high 47 points for Jimmy Butler forces Game 7.— NBA (@NBA) May 28, 2022
Unreal performance. pic.twitter.com/d0squpDS9J
It was a combination of Butler’s excellence and Boston failing to seize the moment that lead to the Celtics’ demise. The Celtics came out the gate sluggish, and didn’t really get things going until midway through the fourth quarter. They even took lead over Miami with 4:43 remaining in the game after a Derrick White three. White was actually a stud for the C’s tonight, finishing with 22 points and 3 steals off the bench. Unfortunately for Boston, Miami went on a 17-6 run to close out the game following that brief lead.
THE CELTICS HAVE THE LEAD IN GAME 6 ☘️pic.twitter.com/hDC4fVxVOp— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) May 28, 2022
JIMMY BUTLER AGAIN.— NBA (@NBA) May 28, 2022
HEAT BY 6 WITH 39.5 LEFT. pic.twitter.com/bc3VqPYNyd
All of these unfortunate events just brought flashback after flashback to 2012. It’s scary how similar the situations were. Same teams, same homecourt advantage, same situation entering and exiting Game 6. In that series, Miami was up 2-1 entering Game 4 in Boston. The Celtics won that one at home. Then, in Game 5 down in Miami, the Celtics stile a huge road victory to go up 3-2. Game 6 in Boston awaited.
A chance for the aging trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen to go on one last trip to the Finals. They had LeBron James and the Miami Heat right where they wanted them. The stage was set for Boston to finish off the series at home. That was until Game 6 LeBron happened.
As much as I dislike LeBron, and I’m about as big of a LeBron hater as you’ll ever meet, credit where credit is due. Game 6 LeBron is memorable even 10 years later for a reason. It was hands down one of the greatest playoff performances ever. On the road, a man who up to that point had won nothing. Against the team that had been the thorn in his side for years. The Celtics of that time were to LeBron what the Pistons were to Michael Jordan in the late 80’s.
LeBron finished with 45 points, shooting 73.1% from the floor, along with 15 rebounds and 5 assists. He was unstoppable, unguardable that night in Boston. He put Miami on his back, and guided them to a Game 7 back home in Miami. We all know how that series ended up turning out.
LeBron Game 6 in Boston 2012:— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) May 28, 2022
45 PTS, 15 RBS, 5 AST on 19-26 shooting.
Jimmy Butler Game 6 in Boston 2022:
47 PTS, 9 RBS, 8 AST on 16-29 shooting.
Built different. 😤
(h/t @WillManso) pic.twitter.com/pvc7SAbXSh
Fast forward back to the present, and you can now understand why my nightmares and sleepless nights have returned. We are replaying everything from that series, down to Jimmy Butler replicating that iconic LeBron performance. This was not a very pleasant trip down memory lane at all, probably for any Celtics fan that remembers 2012.
It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and the feeling of dissapointment has washed over me completely. You had it at home in the Garden, and you failed. A lot of people will dump on Jaylen Brown tonight. Maybe rightfully so, as his missed free throws with the game tied at 99 was the turning point for Miami. All the blame being put on his shoulders is unfair though.
The harsh reality is, Boston just didn’t play well enough tonight to win it. Boston came out flat at home, and now they will have to duke it out on the road in Miami to get to the Finals. It’s unfortunate, but Boston only has themselves to blame.
Now we look towards Sunday, where Boston will look to avoid repeating anymore of 2012’s history. Game 7 awaits.
Featured Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images