Still On Fire: LeBron, Heat Moving On To NBA Finals

LeBron James once again put together a huge performance as the Heat beat the Celtics, 101-88, to move on to the NBA Finals. Previously: LeBron James Explodes In Game 6

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38 Total Updates since June 9, 2012
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Iffy Offense Finally Felled Celtics Vs. Heat

The knock on the Boston Celtics going into the 2012 NBA Playoffs, and at every stage thereafter, was that the team's offense was just too mediocre to sustain a long run. But on the strength of the team's elite defense, excellent production from Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo and truly great coaching from Doc Rivers, the Celtics found themselves with two opportunities to land in the NBA Finals.

But as WEEI.com's Paul Flannery notes, in the end, those offensive issues turned Boston away. Miami held the Celtics to six points over the last nine minutes to clinch the Game 7 victory and a Finals berth.

In the end it was their offense that betrayed them, as it has throughout the 2011-12 season. They had to work so hard to create space and they simply ran out of room. The Heat took away Kevin Garnett in the paint and they forced Rajon Rondo into playing a twisting, contortionist halfcourt game, rather than the chaotic end-to-end mess that is his true strength.

Strengthening the offense will be a key priority for Boston in the offseason. Ray Allen, a free agent, is not widely expected to return. More importantly, fellow FA Kevin Garnett's future is up in the air. He proved during this postseason that his offense does have something left in the tank. But he, Rondo and Paul Pierce certainly need some help.

For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Good Vs. Evil? The NBA Finals Matchup Isn't That Simple

The Thunder were built through the draft, while the Heat's genesis was in free agency. Is the former more honorable? Don't be so quick to assume so.

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VIDEO: The Celtics Are Understandably Sad

As the season and maybe an era ended for the Boston Celtics, emotions got to the players and coach who have been together for five years. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are free agents, and Paul Pierce has been mentioned in trade rumors for the past year.

Whether these Celtics come back next year is still to be decided, but this certainly feels pretty final. One heckuva season for Boston.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Final Score: LeBron James Explodes, Miami Heads To Finals With 101-88 Win

The Miami Heat have earned a return trip to the NBA Finals. They lost a home game and struggled in the first half of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals en route to a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the Big Three all came up big in the fourth quarter, guiding the Heat to a 101-88 win over the Boston Celtics.

Miami was outplayed throughout the majority of the first half, even though foul trouble limited the minutes of Kevin Garnett, but they stormed back in the second half. They outscored the Celtics 27-20 in the third quarter, then put together a dominant fourth quarter, outscoring the Celtics by an even wider margin of 28-15 en route to their double-digit win.

LeBron James put together a second consecutive great performance with 31 points and 12 rebounds, with three of them coming on a huge 30-foot shot midway through the fourth quarter that seemed to permanently shift the momentum in the direction of the Heat. He was also very good defensively, and was a big part of the reason why Paul Pierce put together an average 19-point performance.

For the second time in the series, Rajon Rondo put in an absolutely stellar performance in a losing effort. He finished with 22 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, and in the process became the first player in history to post two triple-doubles in Game 7s.

Chris Bosh started the game on the bench once again, but was not a bit part contributor in Game 7. After James, he was Miami's next best performer, shooting 8-10 from the floor and 3-4 from behind the arc in a 19 point, eight rebound performance. Dwyane Wade was effective offensively as well, kicking in 23 points.

With the game slipping away late in the fourth quarter, Doc Rivers opted to give a curtain call to Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen. This was likely the last game of the five-year run that Boston's aging Big Three had together, as both Allen and Garnett become unrestricted free agents this summer. They exceeded expectations by pushing the Heat to a Game 7, especially considering the injuries to their top young role players at various points in the season, but Rivers and his veteran players will probably see the 2012 NBA Playoffs as more of a missed opportunity than a great run.

The Heat will now travel to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder await them. Game 1 of the NBA Finals is on Tuesday.

For more updates on Game 7, stick with this StoryStream. For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For more on the Celtics, check out CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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2012 NBA Finals Schedule: Heat Vs. Thunder Begins Tuesday

The Miami Heat will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals, beginning on Tuesday.

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VIDEO: LeBron James Nails A Three From Outer Space

Hey, the shot clock is running down! Brandon Bass is guarding for the drive since you, LeBron James, haven’t been so hot from outside. Do something!

Nicely played, friend.

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LeBron James Is Not Messing Around, And Jeff Van Gundy Provides Clarity In The Storm

It is the fourth quarter in a Game 7. LeBron James delivered a strong and-1 with lots of contact, then two plays later carved up the Celtics on the secondary break for a highlight reel dunk.

Then ESPN showed a montage of LeBron disappointments, including the infamous clip from The Decision. So Jeff Van Gundy put into perfect English why people should just get over it already.

"There's a statute of limitations on stupidity, and I think 2 years is long enough," The Notorious J.V.G. said.

LeBron then hit Chris Bosh with a perfect pass on a three-pointer for his first assist of the game, and hit an insanely long three of his own.

LeBron, y'all.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Score Update: Momentum Has Shifted, Miami Ties Game 73-73

A fantastic third quarter performance by the Miami Heat has set up what's likely to be an even better fourth quarter in South Beach. The Boston Celtics' lead has evaporated, and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals is tied 73-73 through three quarters of play.

Rajon Rondo stepped up his scoring in the third, posting an impressive 10 points, but the scoring from the rest of the Celtics dried up while Miami shot the ball well. LeBron James has 20 points, Dwyane Wade has 14, Chris Bosh has 11 and Shane Battier has 12 from four three-pointers.

Kevin Garnett's minutes have been limited by foul trouble, but he did well not to pick up any fouls in the third quarter, and he goes into the fourth quarter with three personal fouls and just 23 minutes played. Because he's essentially taken an entire quarter off, he should be able to go for almost the entire fourth for Boston, which is great considering how unpredictable and inconsistent the Celtics have looked without him on the floor.

For more updates on Game 7, stick with this StoryStream. For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For more on the Celtics, check out CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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LeBron James Yells At Mario Chalmers For Being A Point Guard Who Doesn't Point Guard

As Holly McKenzie puts it, Mario Chalmers is everyone’s kid brother. He had a couple of pretty takes in the third quarter as Miami clawed back to take a lead, but missed some defensive assignments and blatantly missed open teammates on the offensive end.

LeBron James let him know about one such infraction.

“Apply yourself, dangit,” LeDad said. “You’ll never get your own headband if you don’t start making better decisions.”

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Shane Battier Is Unconscious, And The Heat Have Tied The Game

Things have quickly turned in favor of Miami in the third quarter. Shane Battier hit his third and fourth three-pointers (in seven attempts) in quick succession, and Dwyane Wade nailed a long two to tie the game at 59.

This is playoff basketball at its best, y’all.

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Dwyane Wade, LeBron James' Mom Are Close

This probably wouldn't be a thing if not for the Internet and a certain rumor that spread around a few years back. You know the one: Gloria James, LeBron's mom, and Delonte West, and some unspeakable acts that you probably remember. They're all false, we're pretty sure, but they have become a long-running joke.

So seeing Dwyane Wade give LeBron's mom a little love -- a kiss right on the mouth -- just before LeBron did the same is going to be an Internet thing. Of course:

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Yeaaaah!*

*Please don't overreact, Internet. It is weird, though!

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Dwyane Wade Hits LeBron James For Transition Alley-Oop, Which Leads To A Bunch Of Yelling

For most of the first half, the Heat struggled to get out in transition and beat the Celtics’ excellent halfcourt defense to the punch. Much of that has been because the Celtics have refused to turn the ball over.

But Boston committed two late turnovers in the second quarter. One them, a live ball steal by LeBron, led to a gorgeous connection between James and Dwyane Wade.

After the play, LeBron hung on the rim. It appeared Rajon Rondo was camped out under him; Rondo appeared to complain that LeBron was trying to kick him in the head, while LeBron seemed to complain that Rondo wouldn’t let him release. Drama!

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Heat Vs. Celtics Halftime Score: Rondo, Bass Fantastic, Boston Leads 53-46

The first four games of the Eastern Conference Finals were dominated by home teams, but Game 7 marks the third consecutive game where the road team has been better, at least up through point. The Boston Celtics have brought their best to South Beach, and they lead the Miami Heat 53-46 at halftime.

Turnovers have been the downfall of the Heat thus far. They had six in the first quarter, then another four in the second to take them to 10 for the half. The Celtics have done a very good job of getting out on the break and capitalizing on those turnovers, with the best example being Brandon Bass's huge dunk on one such opportunity in the second quarter.

Bass has been the Celtics' surprising hero thus far. Midway through the second quarter, Kevin Garnett picked up his third foul, which could have seriously hindered Boston and caused them to lose momentum in the game. Instead, Bass stepped up big. He has 14 points, three rebounds and three steals in 19 minutes on the floor. The Celtics struggled during the short period of time that Garnett sat down in the first quarter, but Bass prevented a drop-off in play in the second quarter when fouls forced him to sit down.

While the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers have turned the ball over frequently, the opposite has been the case for the Celtics' most frequent ball handlers. Rajon Rondo is having a very Rondo-esque game with six points and 10 assists to go along with zero turnovers, an incredible statistic considering how much of the Celtics' offense runs through him and the degree of difficulty of the passes that he attempts. Ray Allen also has no turnovers.

Even though Boston has the lead and has had that lead for most of the game, the Heat might have succeeded in changing the momentum at the very end of the second quarter. With just under 40 seconds remaining, James stole the ball from Mickael Pietrus, then played a pretty give-and-go with Wade, who set up James for a terrific alley-oop dunk.

James hasn't been anywhere near the dominant player that he was in Game 6, but he hasn't let his team down by any stretch of the imagination either. He's just 3-5 from the floor, but he's done a great job of getting to the free throw line and he has 14 points. Wade hasn't been quite as good, and has just nine points.

Chris Bosh has been excellent for Miami off the bench, and they'll be best served by having him play extensive minutes in the second half if he's healthy. He has nine points and he's a plus-five in just 15 minutes of play. With Garnett in foul trouble, the Heat can't afford to not have Bosh on the floor and attacking him at every opportunity.

For more updates on Game 7, stick with this StoryStream. For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For more on the Celtics, check out CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Welp, Brandon Bass Is Making Up For The Lack Of Kevin Garnett

Since Kevin Garnett left the game with three first half fouls, Brandon Bass has taken over, hitting a baseline jumper, controlling the boards and hitting a monster transition dunk on Dwyane Wade.

The Celtics lead 49-38.

This does not make any sense at all.

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Heat Vs. Celtics Score Update: Boston Forcing Turnovers, Leading 27-23

An extremely loud crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena and a couple of Shane Battier three-point shots got the Miami Heat off to a strong start in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but they struggled during the middle part of the first quarter. With time winding down in the first, Doc Rivers opted to give Kevin Garnett a breather, and it helped Miami back into the game.

The Celtics lead 27-23 after one quarter of play, but their lead could be larger. At one point, the Celtics put together a 9-0 run. Garnett's exit from the game roughly coincided with Chris Bosh coming into the game off the bench for Udonis Haslem, which was a big positive for the Heat. Rivers had to sit Garnett down at some point and the end of the first quarter is as good of a time as any, but Garnett and Bosh should be going toe-to-toe soon enough.

Rajon Rondo has uncharacteristically taken seven shots from the floor already, and he's made just two of them. Paul Pierce's shooting percentage is also poor; the Celtics' small forward is 2-6 from the floor. Otherwise, the Celtics are shooting the ball well, and they've been boosted by a couple of Ray Allen threes.

Miami's biggest issue in the early going has been turnovers. They've already coughed the ball up six times, which is why the Celtics have managed a 27-point quarter on the road while shooting less than 50 percent from the floor.

LeBron James is just 1-3 from the floor, but he's done a good job of getting to the free-throw line. He has eight points, and he's 6-6 from the charity stripe.

For more updates on Game 7, stick with this StoryStream. For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For more on the Celtics, check out CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Game 7 Is Not Like Game 6

1. Boston's offense looks pretty solid. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are hitting shots.

2. Shane Battier is hitting shots.

3. The Celtics are attacking the paint.

And yes,

4. LeBron James does not look like Zeus.

Boston leads 23-17.

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Never Turn Your Back On Rajon Rondo

As Dwyane Wade learned, it's always a good idea to keep at least one eye, and probably both, on Rajon Rondo.

Rondowned_medium

Because he'll just do that. Rondo being Rondo, and all that.

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Joey Crawford Alert: No Tomfoolery Will Be Suffered (Except Tomfoolery Instigated By Joey Crawford)

The Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics has become quite chippy because, well, the Boston Celtics are involved. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce bark like oak trees, Rajon Rondo is physical, and the Heat have a perception of being quite floppy. There was bound to be whining, whinging and wrangling for calls.

But in Game 7 the NBA's quickest whistle, Joey Crawford, serves as lead ref. He once ejected Tim Duncan (!) for laughing (!!) on the bench (!!!). Yes. Joey Crawford suffers no tomfoolery, and in a series with plenty of tomfoolery reached its climax, that matters. Or potentially could matter, if KG, LeBron and the others don't put a heavy muzzle on themselves.

The other two refs are Mike Callahan and Scott Foster. It's one of the most veteran sets in the league, and all will work in the NBA Finals. Only one of these teams will make it to meet them again.

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Heat Vs. Celtics, Game 7: 5 Players To Watch Saturday Night

The Heat and Celtics face off for a Game 7 Saturday night, with a spot in the NBA Finals on the line. LeBron James dominated Game 6, but he's not the only one who could decide things in Miami.

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LeBron James Saves The Heat, And Silences Everyone Else

LeBron James scored 45 points and the Heat dominated the Celtics Thursday, forcing a Game 7 Saturday. And for one game, we remembered why everyone cares so much about LeBron.

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