Our 14th entry takes back to the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Boston Celtics. The Heat maintained a steady lead throughout LeBron James’ Game 6 explosion, but that was not the case in Game 7.
In fact, the Celtics jumped out to a 23-14 lead in the first quarter. Dwyane Wade connected on a three-point play on Miami’s subsequent possession, but Miami need more to take the lead. LeBron James had one of his signature chase-down blocks on Rajon Rondo in the final seconds of the first, but Boston went into the second quarter up 27-23.
Chris Bosh, who was playing in just his third game since suffering an injury in Game 1 of the second round series against Indiana, came off the bench. And to open the second, Bosh made three jumpers — the last one a 3-pointer — to tie the game at 30. But the Celtics quickly went on another run and took a 47-38 lead with 3:57 left before halftime. Fans may remember the beautiful Wade-to-James alley oop in the closing minute of the half, but that cut the deficit to five.
The two teams see-sawed the lead in the third. A Bosh jumper with 28 seconds left tied the game at 73 heading into the fourth. The two teams had played six games and three quarters to a draw. One quarter had the potential to decide whether the Heat’s Big Three experiment would end.
Bosh made a corner 3 to open up the quarter for Miami. On Miami’s next possession, Wade split a double-team to go in for a jam. A little more than a minute later, LeBron drove to the basket and made a layup despite a foul from Mickael Pietrus. But the two teams were just trading baskets. Miami needed to go on a run.
With 7:17 left in the game, Bosh made a corner 3. Miami went up 86-82. Moments later, Brandon Bass cut off a LeBron drive to the basket. LeBron backed up to 30 feet from the basket, but he needed to shoot it with the shot clock winding down. It went in. Miami had a 91-84 lead.
Later in the fourth, Wade got a switch. Brandon Bass was guarding him. Wade drove to the basket and pulled up for a jumper when he felt contact. It went in and he connected on the free-throw. The lead was 98-86 with 2:53 left. The Heat were slamming the Celtics’ championship window shut.
With 28 seconds to go, Doc Rivers took out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. It was over. The Heat were headed to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year.