Heat forward LeBron James said at the start of this NBA season that the road to the championship will go through the Boston Celtics. Well, consider James and the rest of Miami’s squad well on their route to reaching their destination after bouncing the Celtics from the second round to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
James scored 33 points, including his team’s last 10 points, as the Heat closed out the best-of-seven series, 4-1, with a 97-87 win in Game 5 in Miami on May 11.
After the game, James fell to his knees on the court, almost as if he was praying.
“Everything went through my mind at that point,” James told reporters. “Finally getting over this hump against this team. Everything I went through this summer, with ‘The Decision’ and deciding to come down here to be a part of this team … because I knew how important team is to this sport … and all the backlash I got from it.”
LeBron even used the moment to apologize to the city of Cleveland for the aftermath that followed when he decided to leave the Cavaliers to join stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
“I apologize for the way it happened,” James said. “But I knew that this opportunity was once in a lifetime.”
James felt he couldn’t pass up on playing with a star like Dwyane Wade, who did all the scoring for Miami early in Game 5. Wade, who finished with a game-high 34 points with 10 rebounds, felt the same for playing with LeBron.
“When you’re playing this game, and you have another guy over there doing the things and as capable as LeBron, not only am I a fan on the court, but it makes the game easier,” Wade said.
Both LeBron and Wade expressed the great amount of respect they have for the Celtics; James admitted that they were inspired to come together after watching Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce team-up to bring a championship to Boston just three years ago.
Allen led the Celtics with 18 points, while Garnett followed with 15 points and Pierce added 12 in the loss. Reports surfaced throughout the season that this may be the last season that Garnett, Pierce and Allen would play together under head coach Doc Rivers. But point guard Rajon Rondo told reporters after the game that coach Rivers told him he would be coming back next season. Rivers, nevertheless, said during the press conference that he’s still thinking about it.
“I’m a Celtic,” Rivers said. “And I love our guys. I want to win again here. I’m competitive as hell, I have a competitive group. So we’ll see. That’s where I’m at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind.”