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Miami Heat advance to NBA finals
Heat go on a game-ending 18-3 run from 12 points down to beat the Chicago Bulls and book Mavericks showdown.
Last Modified: 27 May 2011 10:15
LeBron James, centre, dives for a loose ball at the United Centre in Chicago [AFP]

Miami Heat came from behind to beat Chicago Bulls 83-80 to book a place against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade inspired a fourth-quarter rally as the Heat won game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals on Thursday, setting up a rematch of their 2006 finals against the Mavs.

James scored 28 points, Wade added 21, and they led a furious rally in the final minutes. They scored eight points each during a game-ending 18-3 run as Miami wiped out a 12-point deficit in their best-of-seven NBA semi-finals series.

The Heat will host Game 1 on Tuesday.

Execution

"Defence. Staying together," James told a courtside reporter about how the Heat overtook the Bulls.

"Just buckled down defensively and executed."

James, who missed nine shots in a row before catching fire at the end, led the Heat with 28 points as Miami swept the last four games after dropping the opener in Chicago.

Wade, who committed nine turnovers, contributed 21 points including a key four-point play, and Bosh scored 20, supplying some cushion with the last two free-throw points.

League MVP Derrick Rose topped Chicago with 25 points, but his desperate three-point heave as time expired was blocked by James.

The Bulls contributed to their own demise by unravelling in the closing minutes. They turned the ball over, failed to get off decent shots and allowed Miami a four-point play when Rose fouled Wade as he sank a three-point bucket.

"We've had several of these games in the playoffs and the regular season where we've finished off with our defence on 12-0, 14-0 runs," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

"We've been through a lot together. We've been through the fire together."

Erik Spoelstra
Heat coach

"We've been through a lot together. We've been through the fire together."

Free agents

After James, Wade and Bosh joined forces in Miami by deciding to sign as free agents with the Heat, they became a love-or-hate team in the NBA, even as they went through growing pains in learning how to play together.

They showed they had come of age by charging past the young Bulls, who had beaten them in all three regular season meetings and who had never lost more than two in a row this season.

The game was a tight defensive struggle similar to the previous four contests with Chicago leading by four after the first quarter, by seven at the half and by five heading into the fourth.

The Bulls, getting a boost from bench players Kurt Thomas and Ronnie Brewer, charged to 12-point lead and looked like they were sending the series back to Miami for a Game Six.

But then the game changed. Wade scored two baskets and James sank a three-pointer to end his nine-shot drought and the lead was cut to 77-72.

Wade, who was MVP of Miami's last title run in 2006, canned a three-pointer and was fouled by Rose. The free throw completed a four-point play that made it 79-76.

James drained another three to tie it at 79-79. His step-back jumper amazingly put Miami in the lead with a minute left.

Rose was fouled on a drive to the hoop and missed one of his two free throws to make the score 81-80 before Bosh sank two for the final margin.

"There's no sense of relief right now,'' James said.

"We've still got work to do. We'll look at this moment tonight, have a little bit of time tomorrow to go over this moment, what we just accomplished. But we get ready for Dallas very soon. We don't take for granted this win and take for granted being Eastern Conference champions.''

Source:
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