Miami Heat beats Boston Celtics in East Game 7; Oklahoma City Thunder up next in NBA Finals

LeBron James and the Heat reach the NBA Finals for the second year in a row, beating the Celtics 101-88 in Game 7 of the East final. James scores 31, Dwyane Wade 23 and Chris Bosh 19 coming off the bench.

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LeBron James and the Heat reach the NBA Finals for the second year in a row, beating the Celtics 101-88 in Game 7 of the East final. James scores 31, Dwyane Wade 23 and Chris Bosh 19 coming off the bench.

MIAMI — LeBron James finally got a Game 7 victory, on his third try.

Next up, the NBA Finals and his third try at that elusive first championship.

James had 31 points and 12 rebounds, Chris Bosh hit a career-best three 3-pointers, the last sparking the run that put it away, and the Heat won its second straight Eastern Conference title, beating the Celtics 101-88 in Game 7 on Saturday.

Miami opens the title series in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Dwyane Wade scored 23 and Shane Battier added 12 for the Heat, which won a Game 7 for the first time since 2004, Wade's rookie season.

Rajon Rondo finished with 22 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for Boston, which got 19 points from Paul Pierce in what might be the last game of the "Big Four" era for the Celtics.

Boston took out its starters with 28.3 seconds left. By then, workers already had a rope around the perimeter of the court, preparing for the East trophy presentation.

The Heat fans screamed first when former player Alonzo Mourning took the microphone — "We still got a lot of work to do," he said — and then again when he handed the trophy to Heat owner Micky Arison.

"A roller-coaster ride," Arison said.

In a championship-or-bust season, the Heat boards a plane for Oklahoma City today.

"We have been through a lot," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Down by seven at halftime and eight early in the third quarter, Miami started clawing back. An 8-0 run tied it at 59, capped by Wade hitting a jumper, then the fun really started.

There were six lead changes and five more ties in the final seven minutes of the third. Bosh scored with 29 seconds left for the last of those ties, and it was tied at 73 going into the fourth.

Battier's 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the third cut Boston's lead to 59-57.

For the next 13 minutes, a span of 46 possessions, neither team led by more than two.

That finally changed when Bosh hit his third 3-pointer with 7:17 left. James made a runner on the next Miami trip and suddenly the Heat had its biggest lead to that point, 88-82 with 6:54 remaining.

"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."

James made a 3-pointer — it went into the books as a 30-footer — as the shot clock was expiring with just under six minutes left, making it 91-84. 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 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 was up 12, and Oklahoma City beckoned.

Brandon Bass scored 16, Ray Allen finished with 15 and Kevin Garnett scored 14 for the Celtics, who know next season could bring big changes. A team that was under .500 at the All-Star break almost made the NBA Finals.

Boston's first score came when the Celtics were inbounding from under their own basket with 1.2 seconds left on the shot clock. Rondo surveyed the defense, then decided to toss the ball off Wade's back, catch it and score himself.

It was an omen: The Celtics got plenty of easy scores early. Boston ran out to a 23-14 lead, before the Heat settled down.

"That's what we talk about," James said. "It has to be a collective group to win the champion­ship. Everybody was in tune (Saturday). … We look forward to the next challenge."

BOSTON (88): Pierce 7-18 3-5 19, Bass 6-8 4-4 16, Garnett 6-12 2-2 14, Rondo 10-22 1-2 22, Allen 5-11 2-2 15, Stiemsma 0-0 0-0 0, Pietrus 0-2 0-0 0, Hollins 1-1 0-0 2, Dooling 0-1 0-0 0, Daniels 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Pavlovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-75 12-15 88.

MIAMI (101): James 9-21 12-17 31, Battier 4-9 0-0 12, Haslem 3-4 1-2 7, Chalmers 4-6 0-0 9, Wade 8-17 7-8 23, Bosh 8-10 0-0 19, Miller 0-2 0-0 0, Cole 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Howard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-70 20-27 101.

Boston27262015—88

Miami23232728—101

3-Point GoalsBoston 6-19 (Allen 3-8, Pierce 2-6, Rondo 1-2, Dooling 0-1, Pietrus 0-2), Miami 9-26 (Battier 4-9, Bosh 3-4, Chalmers 1-3, James 1-5, Jones 0-1, Miller 0-2, Wade 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsBoston 39 (Rondo 10), Miami 45 (James 12). AssistsBoston 19 (Rondo 14), Miami 16 (Chalmers 7). Total FoulsBoston 24, Miami 14. TechnicalsRondo, Wade. A20,114 (19,600).

Heat 101

Celtics 88

XXXXXX



NBA Finals

(All games Ch. 28)

Tuesday: at Oklahoma City, 9

Thursday: at Oklahoma City, 9

June 17: at Miami, 8

June 19: at Miami, 9

June 21: at Miami, 9 *

June 24: at Oklahoma City, 8*

June 26: at Oklahoma City, 9 *

* If necessary

Miami Heat beats Boston Celtics in East Game 7; Oklahoma City Thunder up next in NBA Finals 06/10/12 [Last modified: Sunday, June 10, 2012 2:06am]

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