The Miami Heat return to the NBA Finals for the second straight year as they defeated the Boston Celtics 101-88 in an epic Game 7 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
The doubters across the country claimed the Heat would be finished after a home loss in Game 5, falling down 2-3 in the series. Well, they were wrong. In this win or go home series finale, both teams came prepared and played with tremendous heart and effort.
Boston’s Big 4 gave the Heat a difficult time but were still outscored 73-70 by the “Miami Thrice.” It was a game for the ages and an end of an era for the Boston Celtics.
With a microscope on Miami, the pressure was on and it was time to make a statement. In a much anticipated game, Miami Heat fans were silenced as their team was outplayed in both the 1st and 2nd quarter, ending the half down by seven points.
Neither team was given any easy looks, but it was the consistency from PG Rajon Rondo that gave the Celtics the edge. Leading his team in nearly every category, Rondo did all he could supplying Boston with a triple double (22 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists.)
Knocking down nearly 50% of his shots, Ray Allen was a problem for Miami early from beyond 3-point line, but the Heat’s biggest issue was with PF Brandon Bass. Bass became an offensive threat throughout the 2nd quarter, taking over the game in a crucial time with Kevin Garnett on the bench in foul trouble.
The big men of Boston (Garnett and Bass) combined for 30 points on 12-20 shooting and 12 rebounds.
It was a frustrating half for the Heat, turning the ball over 10 times to Boston’s four. Dwyane Wade continued to play poorly in the first half but was eventually woken up. Wade is like a light switch and be can turned on at any moment. With the 2nd quarter coming to a close, that switch was flipped on as Wade and Rondo exchanged words and were each given technical fouls.
From then onward it was a new ball game.
Down by as much as 11 points, the Heat saw their NBA Finals chances slowly slipping away. But Miami fought back (again). It was thanks to the 3-point shooting efforts provided by Shane Battier and Chris Bosh that kept Miami alive. The two combined for a spectacular 7-13 shooting from behind the arc.
Mario Chalmers also opened up the game for the Heat, driving to the hoop and scoring nine total points.
Given much criticism for his inconsistency in the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade drained a few jump shots in the clutch, finishing the game with 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
In the most important game of the series, LeBron James was finally given the help he desperately needed. For one, Udonis Haslem played his role well bringing the Heat seven points and six boards.
Collectively, the Miami Heat played well as a team but the game could not have been won without the lights-out performance brought to you by PF/C Chris Bosh. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra has always labeled Bosh as the “most important player on the team” and tonight showed why he believes that.
Bosh spread the floor and immediately earned Boston’s attention. Shooting 80% for the game, Bosh nearly took away Boston’s double-team, which has harassed Wade throughout the series. Despite James’ 31 points and 12 rebounds, I would award the game ball to Bosh, because without his length and high percentage shooting, Miami might not have won the game.
Recovering from an abdominal injury, Bosh has made an immense amount of progress and should be starting in the NBA Finals.
As Miami advances to the NBA Finals once again, the “Big 3″ era in Boston appears to have come to an end. Uncertain where Garnett, Allen, and Paul Pierce will end up, the Celtics organization looks towards the future and hopes to assemble another championship caliber team.
I expect Paul Pierce to not only remain a Celtic, but retire as a Celtic. It was quite the run for the “Boston 3 party” and I will miss the epic matchup between these two teams.
Miami advances to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. The Thunder hold home court advantage, with Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 at OkC (2-3-2 format).
The series will begin Tuesday, June 12, in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City at 9pm on ABC. Stay tuned for what should be a legendary face-off between LeBron James and Kevin Durant.