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NBA playoffs: Heat oust Celtics, reach Finals
NBA » James, Miami rally to earn title shot vs. Oklahoma City.


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For the next 13 minutes, a span of 46 dizzying, unbelievable possessions, neither team led by more than two points.

That finally changed when Bosh his third 3-pointer with 7:17 left. James made a runner on the next Miami trip, and suddenly the Heat had their biggest lead of the night to that point, 88-82 with 6:54 remaining.

At a glance

Finals schedule

All games broadcast on Ch. 4

Tuesday » Miami at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.

Thursday » Miami at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.

June 17 » Oklahoma City at Miami, 6 p.m.

June 19 » Oklahoma City at Miami, 7 p.m.

x-June 21 » Oklahoma City at Miami, 7 p.m.

x-June 24 » Miami at Oklahoma City, 6 p.m.

x-June 26 » Miami at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.

x-if necessary

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They were on their way.

"He was big time — every shot, every defensive play, every rebound — we missed him," James said of Bosh. "We’re just happy to have him back at the right time. If it wasn’t for him and the rest of the guys that stepped up, we don’t win this game."

Said Spoelstra: "Our most important player."

James made a 3-pointer — it went into the books as a 30-footer, as he leaped from atop one of the Eastern Conference finals stickers on the floor — as the shot clock was expiring with just under 6 minutes left, making it 91-84.

"Backbreaker," Rivers said.

Even mistakes were going Miami’s way, as James lost a behind-the-back dribble, only to have the ball skip right into Battier’s hands.

Bosh scored from inside the lane to end that possession. Wade scored on the next one, the lead was 95-86 with 3:23 left, Boston called time and the building was simply rocking. James did plenty of talking on the Heat bench in that stoppage, clearly saying the word "Finish" at one point.

They listened. A three-point play by Wade with 2:53 left all but sealed it, the Heat were up 12, and Oklahoma City beckoned.


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story continues below

"We had nothing left," Rivers said. "That’s how it felt, as a coach. ... But overall, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group like this."

Brandon Bass scored 16, Ray Allen finished with 15 and Kevin Garnett scored 14 for the Celtics, who know next season could bring big changes.

A team that was under .500 at the All-Star break almost made the NBA Finals.

Almost.

"One game away on the road, banged up. ... I don’t know if we could have gotten any more from the group," Rivers said.

Boston’s first score came when the Celtics were inbounding from under their own basket with 1.2 seconds left on the shot clock. Rondo surveyed the defense, then decided to simply toss the ball off Wade’s back, catch it and score himself.

It was an omen — the Celtics got plenty of easy scores early.

Boston ran out to a 23-14 lead, before the Heat settled down and tied it twice in the second quarter, the last of those at 35-all with 6:50 left. It was then that Garnett left with his third foul. Heat on a run, Garnett going to the bench, so momentum Miami, right?

Not quite.

Bass scored 10 points in a stretch of just over 3 minutes to spark a 14-3 run, with the Celtics scoring three times off turnovers in that stretch. Allen waltzed in unbothered for a layup with 22 seconds left in the half, and Boston took a 53-46 lead into the break. And the least surprised person in the arena was Rivers, who sensed at the morning shootaround that his team would be sharp for Game 7.

They were.

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