Two years ago, LeBron James chose to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami and build an instant basketball dynasty. The Heat fell two wins shy of beginning that reign in 2011. On Thursday, Miami’s rule over the NBA officially began.
The Heat defeated the Thunder 121-106 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to clinch the world championship. After losing the first game of the series, the Heat won four in a row to earn the franchise’s second title. Although the Heat’s victories in Games 2, 3 and 4 were close and decided by only a few possessions, the clincher was an emphatic statement of basketball greatness.
“We believe we built a team to be around for a while,” team president Pat Riley said.
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “We love you Miami. Thank you for your patience. We remember last year and we wanted to make up for it.”
James, named Finals MVP, scored 26 points to go along with 13 assists and 11 rebounds, finishing with a triple-double in the biggest game of his career. His assist total tied a postseason career high. James entered Game 5 averaging 29.3 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the series.
“It’s about damn time,” James said after receiving his MVP trophy.
It’s party time
James, Wade and Bosh checked out of the game with 3:01 left and the celebration was on. James smiled and lifted a single finger to the crowd. The building shook with excitement and noise. Minutes later, the celebratory streamers and confetti fell from the rafters and Spoelstra was drenched with Gatorade.
The entire fourth quarter felt like coronation inside thunderous AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat led by 24 points to begin the final period and led by 10 points to begin the second half.
“Your champion, Miami Heat,” NBA commissioner David Stern said during the presentation of the Larry O’Brien Trophy at midcourt after the game.
Led by a barrage of three-pointers, Miami blew open the game with a 24-6 run in the third quarter. Battier made two three-pointers during the championship-clinching burst, and Chalmers, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller each contributed one three-pointer during the run.
Miller, who played the entire postseason, was sensational. He scored a postseason career high 23 points and was 7 of 8 from three-point range. The Heat made 14 of 26 attempts from three-point range, setting an NBA Finals record.
Wade had 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists. Bosh, who missed nine consecutive games during the playoffs with an abdominal strain, had 24 points and seven rebounds.
James, whose postseason performance will enter the pantheon of the sport, did it with force and might, throwing his 6-8, 250-pound frame at the rim. He scored at least 16 points in the lane in each of his final seven playoff games. It was the longest such streak of his career.
The Heat broke off a 10-2 run early in the third quarter to push its lead to double digits. Chalmers drained his second three-pointer of the game less than two minutes into the quarter, and Battier followed with his second triple.
Led by James’ urgency, the Heat began the game like a team ready to close out the series. James started the scoring with a soaring dunk and then slashed to the basket for a five-point burst midway through the period. Meanwhile, Bosh matched James’ aggression in the lane, and Miller emerged from the bench to provide his most significant contribution of the series.
Miller, who played throughout the entire postseason with a bad back, literally limped into the game in the first quarter. He then started stroking three-pointers, including back-to-back threes at one point.
Miller had more points by halftime (nine) than he had in the series’ first four games combined (eight).
Shane Battier finished with 11 points and was 3 of7 from three-point range. Chalmers had 10 points and was 2 of 4 from three-point range. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 23 points and Russell Westbrook had 19. The Heat shot 51.9 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range, whereas the Thunder shot 41.4 percent.
“We’re going to have a party tonight,” Riley said at midcourt during the championship trophy presentation after the game.
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