The king finally has his ring.
Two years ago, LeBron James chose to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami and build an instant basketball dynasty. The Heat fell two wins shy of beginning that reign in 2011. On Thursday, Miami’s rule over the NBA officially started.
The Heat defeated the Thunder 121-106 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to clinch the world championship. After losing the first game of the series, the Heat won four straight to earn the franchise’s second NBA championship. While the Heat’s victories in Game 2, 3 and 4 were close and decided by only a few possessions, the clincher was an emphatic statement of basketball greatness.
“We believe we built a team to be around for awhile,” team president Pat Riley said.
James, named Finals MVP, scored 26 points to go along with 13 assists and 11 rebounds, finishing with a triple-double in the biggest game of his career. His assist total tied a postseason career high. James entered Game 5 averaging 29.3 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the series.
“It’s about damn time,” James said after receiving his MVP trophy.
It was a wild ride. A bit of historical perspective: The Heat is the first team in the history of the NBA to win the Finals after trailing in three different playoff series. Miami trailed the Pacers 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, trailed the Celtics 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals and trailed the Thunder 1-0 in the Finals.
“We love you, Miami,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Thank you for your patience.”
James, Wade and Bosh checked out of the game with 3:01 left and the celebration officially started. James smiled and lifted a single finger to the crowd. The building shook with excitement and noise. Minutes later, the celebratory streamers and confetti fell from the rafters and Spoelstra was drenched with Gatorade.
The entire fourth quarter felt like a coronation inside thunderous AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat led by 24 points to begin the final period and led by 10 points at halftime.
“Your champion, Miami Heat,” NBA commissioner David Stern said during the presentation of the Larry O’Brien Trophy at midcourt.
Led by a barrage of three-pointers, Miami blew open the game with a 19-1 run in the third quarter. Battier made two three-pointers during the championship-clinching offensive burst in the third period. Mario Chalmers, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller each had one three-pointer in the third quarter.
Miller, who played with a bad back the entire postseason, was sensational in Game 5. He scored a postseason-career-high 23 points and was 7 of 8 from three-point range after averaging just two points a game to begin the series. The Heat made 14 of 26 attempts from three-point range, setting an NBA Finals record.
“Pure adrenaline,” Spoelstra said of Miller’s performance.
Wade had 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists. He and Udonis Haslem now have two championships with the Heat. Haslem had a point, an assist and a rebound in Game 5.
“Since I won it six years ago, I’ve been through a lot in my personal life and I’ve been through a lot in my professional life,” Wade said. “This one means so much more.”
Bosh, who missed nine straight games during the playoffs with an abdominal strain, had 24 points and seven rebounds. His three-pointer with 3:30 left in the third quarter gave the Heat a 22-point lead. Miller expanded the lead to 25 points with a three-pointer on the Heat’s next possession.
“We came here to win a championship and we got it done,” Bosh said.
James, who’s postseason performance will enter the pantheon of the sport, did it with force and might, throwing his 6-8, 250-pound frame at the rim for four rounds. He scored at least 16 points in the lane in each of his final seven playoff games. It was the longest such streak of his career.
“[James] really took being the best player in the league to a different level and did it all season,” Wade said.
Setting a new standard for postseason greatness, James had 13 games in the playoffs with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and James held the old record of 11 straight games with at least 25-5-5 in the postseason.
The Heat broke off a 10-2 run early in the third quarter to push its lead by to double digits. Chalmers drained his second three-pointer of the game less than two minutes into the quarter and Battier followed with his second triple.
Battier finished with 11 points and was 3 of 7 from three-point range. Chalmers had 10 points and was 2 of 4 from three-point range. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 32 points and Russell Westbrook had 19. The Heat shot 51.9 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range while the Thunder shot 41.4 percent.
“It’s tough,” Durant said. “We’re going to continue to work hard. I’m just blessed to be a part of this organization and hopefully we can get back.”
Led by James’ urgency, the Heat began the game like a team ready to close out the series. James started the scoring with a soaring dunk and then slashed to the basket for a five-point burst midway through the period. Meanwhile, Bosh matched James’ aggression in the lane and Miller emerged from the bench to provide his most significant contribution of the series.
Miller literally limped into the game in the first quarter. He then started stroking three-pointers. Miller had more points by halftime (12) than he had in the series’ first four games combined (eight).
“A lot of us dreamed of these situations,” Miller said. “Through the injuries, I’m just glad they didn’t take me back to the barn and put me down. I’m just happy to be here.”