The NBA Finals will come down to a battle between arguably the two best players in the Association, as the Oklahoma City Thunder will host the Miami Heat starting Tuesday night, after Miami took over game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals in the fourth quarter and they beat the Boston Celtics by a final margin of 101-88.
The Celtics would hold an 11 point advantage in the first half, however the Heat came back to grab the lead in the third before settling for a tie at the conclusion of the period. Boston briefly held the upper hand early in the fourth, but while the Celtics settled for jump shots during the second half, the Heat would turn up their intensity in the final 24 minutes of play.
LeBron James racked up a double-double with a game high 31 points while Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and Chris Bosh came alive in the fourth to finish the night with 19 points, in his best performance since returning from his injury in the second round of the Post Season. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo showed once again why he is one of the top five point guards in the Association as he ended his season with another triple-double, including a team high 22 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. All five Celtics starters ended the night in double-figures, however the bulk of their scoring was in the first 36 minutes of the contest, knocking down just 15 points in the final 12 minutes of their season.
The victory for Miami, sets up the series that certainly most fans of the Association were hoping to see, a battle between the big-market Heat constructed around three high-priced Free Agents, against a franchise from one of the smallest markets in the NBA, a team built through the NBA Draft, with three top-tier players, but a club that plays more of a team-oriented game. Most fans outside of Miami and Seattle, will be pulling for the Thunder, who will head to the Championship round for the first time since they moved from the city they played in for 41-years as the Seattle Supersonics.
The Celtics went far deeper into the Post Season, than most NBA observers expected, yet it will take time for “Celtics Nation” to get over the loss, of this game and this series; both of which they led, before allowing those advantages to slip away. Although Miami won the match-up, Boston realizes they had victory within their grasp, but could not hold onto it as they lost the last two contests of the Conference Finals after taking a 3-2 lead in the series when they defeated their hosts in game five. There will be plenty of time for dissection of what went wrong for the 2008 NBA Champions, however now is the time to focus on a much-anticipated match-up that begins Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.