Miami Heat Advances to NBA Finals
MIAMI — One Big Three goes home. One moves on.
In a series compelling until the last drop, the Miami Heat outlasted the Boston Celtics 101-88 Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Despite never leading by more than two points over the first three quarters, the Heat got a closing Big Three push by LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to put it away.
“We have a very confident group,” Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ve said this all year long. And that’s why we didn’t panic, in either one of these last two series when we got behind.”
Because of that, the Celtics’ Big Three might have reached its point of extinction, with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to be free agents, Paul Pierce inconsistent in this series, with only Rajon Rondo holding it together for extended stretches for Boston this postseason.
James, consistently working his way to the foul line, led the Heat with 31 points. Bosh, who took his game outside with a career-high three three-pointers, added 19 points off the bench. And Wade, who again struggled early, added 23 points.
“He was absolutely brilliant this series, and we all know it,” Spoelstra said of James. “He’s playing at an historic level during the playoffs, driving us with his will. We do not take his talent or his will or his competitiveness for granted. And we need every single bit of it. He is pushing himself beyond his limits, and he’s pushing the rest of the team as well.”
For the Celtics, Pierce led the way with 19 points, with Garnett scoring 14 and Allen 15. Rondo closed with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, clearly showing he is the future for the Celtics.
Now, the Heat will face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
They’re a very, very good, very talented team,” Bosh said. “They’ve gotten over humps themselves. They beat the hottest team in the league at the time in the San Antonio Spurs. And they present a lot of challenges. But that’s what The Finals are about, playing tough teams and having big challenges ahead of you. We know that they have home court, so we’re going to have to play our best basketball in order to overcome that team. Because we know it’s not going to be easy, and they’re going to come out swinging; so are we. And they’re a very good team, and they execute well and they play together well. But you know, we do the same thing. That trophy is going to go to whoever plays the best series.”
The first game of the NBA Finals will tip-off on Tuesday.