September 22, 2020

Crowning achievement: Heat win NBA Finals


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One team burned for a championship. The other team is not yet aware of what it takes.

The Miami Heat, that other team last year, playing in the high-pressure stratosphere of extreme expectations promised by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, rose to the occasion Thursday.

Led by James’ first triple double of the season, the Heat extinguished the young Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 to claim their first title in the Big 3 era and Miami’s second as a franchise.

It was a 48-minute homage to offensive and defensive execution by the Heat, with regular-season MVP James — named Finals MVP — posting 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.

It was the 13th time since the NBA began naming a Finals MVP in 1969 that one player won both in the same season.

Five other Heat players scored in double figures, including beleaguered forward Mike Miller, who hit seven 3-pointers and had 23 points. Bosh added 24 and Wade 20.

For the postseason, James averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. For the Finals, 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists.

“This is the happiest day of my life,” James said. “I wouldn’t want to spend it with anyone else but my teammates, these fans. Oh man, it’s a dream come true.”

Wade, who led the Heat to their 2006 title, recognized he had to cede control of the team this year to James for the Big 3 concept to work.

“We made a decision two years to become a team, you know, LeBron, Chris and myself. So you got to do what you got to do to make sure you reach your goal,” Wade said.

Looking back on the journey from a year ago, when the Heat lost in the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, and James was heavily criticized for not showing up, even being selfish, he said: “It helped me a lot and I was able to go back to the basics. At the end of the day I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘You’ve got to be better.’ ”

Miami is the first to win a title after trailing in three series: 2-1 to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, 3-2 to the Boston Celtics in the conference finals, 1-0 to the Thunder.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant did what he could in this one, with 32 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

“We have nothing to be ashamed of, but we got beat by a heck of a great team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Coach Spoelstra did a great job. … It’s about putting your time in. And our guys have done that. We’ve improved a lot the last three or four years together. … We’ve got a great group of guys who love the game of basketball.”

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