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LeBron James has suffered being the NBA’s reluctant villain since his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. Despite some stellar on court performances he can’t escape criticisms that he isn’t clutch, or needs a crutch like Dwyane Wade to achieve greatness.

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Well, last night in a hostile Boston arena the most maligned hairline in sports put on a show. With the Heat facing elimination from the NBA Playoffs LeBron asserted himself from the onset, scoring 30 points in the first half and eventually leading his team to a 98 to 79 victory over the Boston Celtics. His stat line of 45 points and 15 rebounds in 45 minutes on 19 of 26 shooting put him in elite company. James became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1964 with at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a postseason game. Chamberlain had 50, 15 and six.

“I hope now you guys can stop talking about LeBron and he doesn’t play in big games,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said afterward. “He was pretty good tonight. So we can put that to bed and go play Game 7.”

That match-up will take place on Saturday in Miami and the winner will go on to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals.

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Celtics Coach Rivers Defends LeBron After Game 6 Performance  was originally published on