What a comeback!
CHICAGO – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade won the Heat these Eastern Conference Finals with stellar fourth-quarter play. They saved their grand finale for Thursday night’s Game 5, and it earned them a spot in the NBA Finals.
The two Heat stars combined for 22 fourth-quarter points, leading their team from a double-digit deficit to a 83-80 win over the Bulls. The victory clinched the Eastern Conference Finals for the Heat; they open the NBA Finals on Tuesday at home against the Mavericks in a re-match of the 2006 Finals.
Thursday marked another step in a crazy year for the most fascinating franchise in North American professional sports. It started with James electing to join Wade by signing with the Heat as a free agent and spun into a rocky regular season, where the Heat rallied for 58 wins. It now continues with James’ first chance to deliver one of the multiple championships he promised Heat fans during a preseason pep rally.
James and Wade, combined with fellow free agent Chris Bosh, combined for 69 of the Heat’s 83 points, including the final 33 of the game.
For much of Game 5, a Game 6 on Saturday night in Miami seemed certain. The Bulls’ defense dominated the first three-and-half quarters and helped give them a 12-point lead with 3:14 remaining.
But the Heat capped the game on an 18-3 run. Wade converted a key four-point play. James followed with a tying 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining and a jumper with 29 seconds left to give his team the lead for good.
Derrick Rose missed a potential tying free throw with 27 seconds left, and Bosh sank two to put the Heat up 83-80. The Bulls failed to get a look on their final possession, run without a timeout because they had none. Rose’s desperation 3-pointer was deflected and never reached the rim, setting off a Heat celebration led by James and Wade.