The road to the NBA Finals is always a rough one but Saturday night the Miami Heat made it look fairly easy after their 101-88 win over the Boston Celtics. They will now face the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night on their path to once again having another Championship. LeBron James came to play, and play he did scoring 31 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists. Love or hate James, this is why he is referred to as the King. James is now the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in the 2000 finals to have six 30 point games in a playoff series.
The one game he didn’t score over 30 was in Game 4 when he fouled out in overtime and finished with 29 points. But it wasn’t just the King James show the rest as the rest of the big three made their presence known. Dwyane Wade scored 23 points, had 6 rebounds and 6 assists. And Chris Bosh who had a career high three three pointers, contributed 19 points and 8 rebounds. Game 7 was fantastic from start to finish, it featured 20 lead changes and 10 ties but the Heat never up by more than two points through the first three quarters. But in the 4th quarter with 6:54 left the Heat took their biggest lead of the night 88-82 and never looked back.
As excited as the Heat are, the Celtics are feeling the burn. Boston stayed on point most of the night and many were on the edge of their seat as both teams took it back and forth. But they couldn’t keep up with the Heat towards the end of the night. The Celtics may not have won but the sure weren’t taking it easy. Rajon Rondo was the true star of the night for the Celtics scoring 22 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Kevin Garnett had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist along with Ray Allen who had 15 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist.
The Celtics may have come up short Coach Doc Rivers said it best, “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group like this. They did everything I asked them to do. They came up short. … Our guys, I love them. They were phenomenal.” As far as the Heat is concerned many feel that it won’t be the Thunder getting in the way, it will be the Heat themselves. A year after falling two games short of the franchise’s second NBA championship the Heat will now have a shot at redemption. If the Heat can bring their A game to the Thunder like they did in Game 7, they can walk away with the NBA Championship. But for all doubters and naysayers who say that the Heat are bound to choke James said it best, “I can’t worry about what people say about me, about my game, about who I am as a person I can’t get involved in that. People can have their own opinions, and rightfully so. They can have their own opinions.
For me I just go out and play at a high level, and do whatever it takes for us to win. And I can be happy with that.”
Four years ago the Oklahoma City Thunder was among the league’s worst, the first Thunder team won only three of its first 32 games and finished 23-59, with the third worst league record finding tickets was easy, they were practically giving them away.
Now that they are in the NBA Finals tickets are impossible to get and now all you see is blue and orange Thunder flags waving from vehicles proudly around the city, a tribute to a team that is the debutante of the NBA Finals. In Oklahoma City there are skyscrapers with banners that say “Let’s Go Thunder” hung from them, and one local shop even has a giant fake beard at the front door to mimic Thunder’s guard James Harden’s bushy style. In 2008 an Oklahoma City businessman moved the team after Seattle balked at building the SuperSonics a new arena. But before the Thunder arrived many Oklahomans’ sports loyalties were divided between OU and OSU. Now the city and state are united behind the Thunder who are taking on the Miami Heat in the best of 7 series, with the Thunder having the all important home court advantage.
Kevin Durant who is one of two players that moved from Seattle and led the Thunder to the conference finals last year, said he’s been trying to focus on the task at hand. “You know there’s family calling and friends calling, wanting to come down, but everybody’s been doing a good job of giving me my space and just letting me focus on what we need to do.” But the people that the players always have time for are the fans. Thunder Coach Scott Brooks has said that the players and coaches are energized by the fans and appreciate the dedication
“They feel a part of this and they should. They’ve done a good job of making us feel that we’re a part of this community,” he said. “Our players, they love playing here. They know every night that we’re going to have the best crowd in the game and they’re going to come out and they’re going to cheer you on.”
In a game not to be missed everyone was tuned into Game 7 to see the Heat make their way to the NBA Finals with their win over the Celtics. This game drew the highest preliminary television rating for an NBA playoff game on cable since records started being kept in 2003. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night on ESPN showed that they drew a 9.1 overnight rating. ESPN said Sunday that the three highest overnight ratings for NBA games on cable have come during this series. In Boston, the game had an amazing 21.7 rating, the highest on cable for an NBA playoff game. Ratings are determined by percentages of all homes with televisions tuned into a program.