The Miami Heat are heading back to the NBA Finals by virtue of a huge fourth quarter in their 101-88 Game 7 win in Miami over the Boston Celtics.
The Heat trailed for the majority of the game, but they never hung their heads or buckled under the pressure. LeBron James was once again fantastic. He came up with countless big plays and plenty of those came in the fourth. Chris Bosh also made a nice contribution coming off the bench and even nailed three three-pointers.
When it was all said and done, this is what Pat Riley must have envisioned when he helped orchestrate the Big 3 joining forces in Miami, as James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined to score all of the Heat's final 31 points.
The Heat will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in a best-of-seven for the rights to be called the 2012 NBA champions. This will also be a chance for them to exorcise the demons borne from their championship failures of a season ago.
Tweets of the Night
After missing considerable playoff time with an injury, the Heat have struggled to incorporate Chris Bosh back into the flow. This undoubtedly led to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra bringing Bosh off the bench for Game 7, which is something that ESPN's Brian Windhorst struggled to understand.
Continue to not understand not starting Bosh in either half. That said, Celtics continue to play very focused, executing well.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 10, 2012
ESPN's John Hollinger noticed an aversion to travel calls in this game.
I thought the pivot after the fourth step was prettier than the jump stop after the third step.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) June 10, 2012
Not Bill Walton was not impressed by LeBron James' moves, but couldn't help but be distracted by his cranium attire.
Unbelievable move by LeBron James! Even more unbelievable is that he is wearing a ripped up t-shirt sleeve on his head.— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) June 10, 2012
Hey! Drastic measures must be taken when dealing with a rapidly receding hairline as James is.
Must-See Highlight of the Night
The Heat are absolutely deadly in the open court. This highlight showcases that. James starts the break with his defense and has Dwyane Wade running alongside him.
They go for the ol' alley-oop give-and-go where Wade catches the ball in the air and dishes out the assist before hitting the ground.
Grades for Key Celtics Players
Rajon Rondo: B
Rondo was certainly not perfect in this game. He struggled with his shot and had some odd lapses on defense, but he was also making plays all over the court.
The star point guard had another triple-double with 22 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds on 10-22 shooting for the night.
Paul Pierce: C+
After a terrible Game 6, Paul Pierce came back with a much better effort, but it was still not what the Celtics were hoping for or needed.
Pierce had 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting. He also had just four boards and was thoroughly outplayed by James.
Grades for Key Heat Players
LeBron James: A
The amazing James was intense, assertive and great. His shot was not rolling like it was in his epic Game 6, but it wasn't terrible and finished 9-of-21 from the field.
He also didn't tally up many assists—just two—but we can certainly forgive him for that. James and Wade were deadly in the pick-and-roll, and James effective from all corners of the court.
James finished with 31 points and 12 boards.
Dwyane Wade: B+
Wade's offense was inconsistent, but he made some huge plays—the kind that show up in the box score and the kind that don't.
Wade did a wonderful job of keeping the ball alive on offensive rebounds, and he was up to his usual tricks in this one.
He ended with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting with six rebounds and six assists.
Deciding Factor: Fourth Quarter
Maybe it was tired legs for Boston, maybe it was the greatness of the Heat, or a little of both, but the Heat made the Celtics look flat in the decisive fourth quarter.
The Celtics went cold at the worst possible time, and were outscored 28-15 in the fourth.
MVP: LeBron James
James did not replicate his amazing greatness in Game 6, but played a wonderful game nonetheless. He was nearly unstoppable all night and led this team down the stretch to secure the victory.
The Miami Heat will head to Oklahoma City to start the 2012 NBA Finals on Tuesday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Boston will contemplate their future as they decide what to do with an aging roster.