We’re continuing our look back at classic Miami Heat games. Find our last rewind — when LeBron James came back from cramps to hit a huge 3, and Mario Chalmers made a decisive layup against the Oklahoma City Thunder — here.
For our fifth entry, we travel back in time to May 26, 2011 — the first year of the Big Three era. The Heat had struggled against the Chicago Bulls in the regular season and lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 103-82. But Miami won the next three games to go up 3-1 against the top-seeded Bulls.
Game 5 was a low-scoring affair — Chicago held a 62-57 lead through three quarters. And it seemed like the Bulls had the game in hand when Ronny Brewer made a 3-pointer with 3:53 left. Chicago had a 76-64 lead.
But Dwyane Wade and LeBron James didn’t want to go back to Miami to finish the series. Wade made two layups on back-to-back possessions, and the Heat cut the deficit to 69-77. But only 2:36 remained in the game. The Heat needed a near-perfect rest of the game to win.
Chicago came up empty on the other side of the court. Wade found LeBron for a 3. Miami was just down 72-77 with 2:07 left. The Bulls called a timeout, and Derrick Rose made a bucket to lift Chicago up to a seven-point lead with just 106 seconds left.
But LeBron found Wade. Rose hit Wade on the arm as he rose for a 3. The ball went in, and Wade completed the four-point play. Miami was down just three points with 1:30 to play. Rose missed a jumper on the other end. LeBron jogged up-court. Haslem set a pick on Luol Deng, giving James enough space to launch a 3.
It was good. The Heat had tied the game with 61 seconds left. LeBron stole the ball from Rose on the Bulls’ subsequent possession. The Heat had a chance to take the lead. And LeBron rose up for a 20-foot jumper over Brewer as the shot clock wound down. It went in.
The Bulls would have one last chance, down 83-80 with 17 seconds left. Taj Gibson set a screen for Rose, so Haslem stood in front of Rose as the 2011 MVP rose up for a 3. But James was right there, and he blocked Rose’s shot.
The Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for just the second time in franchise history. LeBron locked up Rose, using his length to bother the third-year guard, and made clutch jumpers. LeBron’s bad performance in the 2011 Finals overshadowed his performance in this game, leading to a summer of mockery against James. But this game still stands as an amazing comeback.