LeBron James said he wanted to lead the Miami Heat to "not two, not three ... not six, not seven" NBA Championships. Many laughed. In Boston? They scowled. LeBron had never beaten the Celtics in an NBA Playoffs series, you see, and to project or even suggest that Dwayne Wade's Miami, freshly renewed with not just LeBron but also Chris Bosh, could win "not six, not seven" rings was a direct insult to those champion Celtics. Boston won the title in 2008 and owned two of the three East banners hung since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to town.
To get to the goal, Miami would have to go through Boston, at least for the first couple years of the new Heat era. Guess what? The Heat are one win away from going through Boston; a victory in Game 5 in South Beach would propel Miami to the Eastern Conference Finals over the Celtics.
Game 4 was the stuff legends are knit from; the Heat trailed at halftime as a gutty Boston team with a one-armed Rajon Rondo opened up the offense. But Miami, led by -- if you can believe it -- Bosh, stormed back. LeBron forced Paul Pierce into a too-tough jumper to end regulation, and Miami shocked the Celtics' faithful with an overtime blitzkrieg to take a 98-90 win and a powerful 3-1 series advantage.
Miami now has three opportunities to finish off Boston, with the first coming Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, TNT). If they can do it, the road to Championship No.1 still has obstacles. But the hurdle feared to be the greatest will have been cleared, and that's no small thing.