Like the old saying goes, "anything that doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger."
The Miami Heat's journey to the NBA Finals certainly hasn't been easy, but it has elevated their level of play. First, they ran into some problems - after Chris Bosh's injury - against the Indiana Pacers, and the Boston Celtics gave them serious fits during the Eastern Conference finals.
However, the Heat fought their way through their problems, beating the odds against the Celtics after being down 3-2, five games into the series.
LeBron James in particular took his play to a whole new level, silencing his critics once and for all. He put on one of the most impressive clutch performances in NBA history against the Celtics in Game 6, dropping 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists. LeBron continued his clutch play in Game 7, taking over the game in the fourth quarter, leading the Heat to their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance.
The Heat will now face the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2012 NBA championship, and they'll be in for another tough series. The two teams split their regular season series, with each team winning a game on their home floor.
"They're a very, very, very talented team," Chris Bosh said about the Thunder. "They execute well, they play together well. But we do the same."
The Thunder will have home-court advantage during the Finals, but I personally think that the current format benefits the lower-seeded team. After playing two games on the road, the Heat will head back to the American Airlines Arena, where they'll get three consecutive games.
I'm pretty confident the Heat will be able to secure a road win against the Thunder, and I expect them to close out the series at home. The games will be tightly contested, but in the end, the Heat will hoist up their first title in the LeBron-Bosh-Wade era.
"It's going to be a big test for us," LeBron said about the NBA Finals. "We look forward to the challenge."
Barry Jackson, "NBA Finals promises to be a duel between Heat's LeBron James…"
Player and game information from ESPN.com
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