Although injuries had taken the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic out of the running, the Miami Heat also faced their fair share of adversity in their postseason run. Injuries and quality opponents made it challenging just to make it to the Finals for a second consecutive season.
The Heat took down the New York Knicks, 4-1, in the first-round, with James going for at least 27 points in all but one game. He not only spent a lot of time defending Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, but he was the clear leader on the offensive end as well. James also reminded us why he was the MVP with a 17-point fourth quarter to give the Heat a victory in Game 3 and an insurmountable 3-0 series lead.
Fortunately for the Heat, Iman Shumpert was done by Game 1 with a torn ACL, Amar'e Stoudemire took himself out of commission in Game 3 and Baron Davis also suffered a torn ACL in Game 4. Jeremy Lin was hurt for the entire series, too, but it's tough to believe that someone who recorded eight points and eight turnovers in their only other meeting would have that much significance.
The Indiana Pacers weren't believed to be a considerable challenge, but quickly became one once Chris Bosh strained his abdomen early in Game 1. While James and Wade led the Heat to a win, Bosh's timetable on when he would return was uncertain, and his status grew only more worrisome once the Heat lost Game 2 at home and then Game 3 in embarrassing fashion.
Facing a 2-1 deficit, James showed the world why he was given the reins to the team, recording 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists to tie the series. From there, James would lead the team to a blowout win in Game 5 and close out the best-of-seven with 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds in Game 6, with Wade scoring 41 points.
The Heat appeared ready for another quick series against Boston, taking the first two games at home in the conference finals. Miami had just come up victorious despite Rajon Rondo having the game of his life in Game 2, which would lead you to believe the Celtics had given the Heat their best shot only to come away with nothing.
Then, Chris Bosh's absence started to take its toll. In the form of three consecutive losses where James had 34, 29 and 30 points, respectively, it was obvious the Heat needed Bosh to help stretch the floor. Without Bosh, the Celtics were double-teaming Wade and it forced LeBron to have to pick up too much slack.
The wheels were about to fall off following a Game 5 loss at home that gave Boston a 3-2 series lead. Heading into a stadium where they had lost 14 of their previous 15, it was tough to believe the Heat could pull out a victory, especially with Wade struggling and Bosh ailing. This game was going to be left for LeBron to decide.
45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists later, James and the Heat were ready for Game 7, a Game 7 they would win after running the Celtics ragged in the fourth quarter. James had 31 points and 12 rebounds to put an end to what could have quickly become one of the worst moments of his life.
Alas, he pulled through with a stat line that hadn't been seen since the 1960s and was prepared for a second consecutive NBA Finals appearance, this time facing MVP runner-up Kevin Durant and an offensively gifted Oklahoma City team.