LeBron leads Heat to NBA Finals with Game 7 win over Celtics
Saturday night, a LeBron James-led team finally overcame Boston's vaunted history of Game 7 success. Now, Miami takes on a young, rested Thunder squad in the NBA Finals that begin Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
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"A roller-coaster ride," Arison said.
A roller-coaster game, too. In a roller-coaster season.
All worth it — for now, anyway. The next step awaits, another shot at the finals. In a championship-or-bust season, the Heat board a plane for Oklahoma City on Sunday.
"We have been through a lot," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James and Celtics coach Doc Rivers — who teared up often postgame — shared a long embrace when it was all over. Before coming to Miami for Game 7, Rivers had packed for Oklahoma City, a trip he won't make, set to now spend his time seeing if James can win that first title.
"I told him to go do it," Rivers said.
Down by seven at the half and eight early in the third quarter, Miami started clawing back. An 8-0 run tied it at 59-all, capped by Wade hitting a jumper, and then the fun really started.
There were six lead changes and five more ties in the final 7 minutes of the third. Bosh scored with 29 seconds left for the last of those ties, and it was 73-all going into the fourth.
Six games decided nothing, and nothing was decided in Game 7 until the very last moments, neither team yielding much of anything. Battier's 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the third cut Boston's lead at the time to 59-57.
And back and forth they went.
For the next 13 minutes, a span of 46 dizzying, unbelievable possessions, neither team led by more than two points.
That finally changed when Bosh his third 3-pointer with 7:17 left. James made a runner on the next Miami trip, and suddenly the Heat had their biggest lead of the night to that point, 88-82 with 6:54 remaining.
They were on their way.
"He was big time — every shot, every defensive play, every rebound — we missed him," James said of Bosh. "We're just happy to have him back at the right time. If it wasn't for him and the rest of the guys that stepped up, we don't win this game."
Said Spoelstra: "Our most important player."
James made a 3-pointer — it went into the books as a 30-footer, as he leaped from atop one of the Eastern Conference finals stickers on the floor — as the shot clock was expiring with just under 6 minutes left, making it 91-84.
"Backbreaker," Rivers said.
Even mistakes were going Miami's way, as James lost a behind-the-back dribble, only to have the ball skip right into Battier's hands.
Bosh scored from inside the lane to end that possession. Wade scored on the next one, the lead was 95-86 with 3:23 left, Boston called time and the building was simply rocking. James did plenty of talking on the Heat bench in that stoppage, clearly saying the word "Finish" at one point.
They listened. A three-point play by Wade with 2:53 left all but sealed it, the Heat were up 12, and Oklahoma City beckoned.
"We had nothing left," Rivers said. "That's how it felt, as a coach. ... But overall, I don't know if I've ever had a group like this."