Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Celtics Still Jinx for James Boston Unfriendly Place for Lebron's Title Hunt -- Again

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Celtics Still Jinx for James Boston Unfriendly Place for Lebron's Title Hunt -- Again

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- LeBron James appreciates the irony in matching up against the Boston Celtics on the road with the season on the line. He faced it in 2008 and lost. He faced it in '10 and lost, removing his Cleveland Cavaliers jersey for the final time as he left the floor that night.

And now in a championship-or-bust season for the Miami Heat, James heads back to Boston for another win-or-else game.

"It is fitting," James said.

The Celtics lead the Heat, 3-2, in the Eastern Conference Final, and tonight will look to clinch a third trip in the past five years to the championship round. If they succeed in Game 6 or Game 7, all three Boston trips to the title round would have come at James' expense.

His first five games at Boston led to three wins. In 29 games there since, he has three wins.

No team, maybe no other building, has befuddled James as much as the Celtics and the arena they call home. He has had a 45-point performance there in a loss, a 42-point performance in a loss, a 27- point, 19-rebound, 10-assist effort there in another loss. And, if the Heat lose there tonight, his ninth season will end as the previous eight did -- without a championship.

"I know how much pain this team has given me over the years," James said. "So, I guess it's only right that we would be going up there in an elimination game. In order for us to keep our season going, we've got to win in their building. So that's what it's about."

It is no secret that the expectation -- internally and externally -- for the Heat is to win championships. That is what James famously vowed to get when he came to Miami in July 2010, and, after losing the title to Dallas last season, it has been the only goal for the Heat this season.

James won his third MVP award this season, and he is averaging 29.9 points in the playoffs, six points better than his pace from a year ago and one-tenth of a point away from the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant for the league's postseason lead. If Miami loses tonight, its season -- and James' -- will go down in most circles as a failure.

"We have to do this together," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "He's going to do what he's supposed to do, and we're going to do what we're supposed to do. …

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