MIAMI — Not only have the Miami Heat caught the Boston Celtics — they have officially gone past them, and into the Eastern Conference finals. They went on a 16-0 run to end the game. Dwyane Wade scored 34 points, LeBron James put the Heat up for good with a three-pointer with 2:10 left on the way to 33 points, and Miami topped Boston 97-87 to win their East semifinal series Wednesday night in five games.
James added a series-sealing three with 40.4 seconds left, then turned and posed for some fans who screamed in delight.
"They make you fight for everything," James said. "You can never take the foot off the gas. You can never take a second off against that team."
So he kept playing, all the way to the final second. A steal and two-handed slam six seconds later for good measure, followed by a Celtics turnover, got the party started. It was over, the Heat and Celtics knew it, and Boston Coach Doc Rivers stood silently near the bench, his arms folded across his chest.
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Boston was thoroughly worn down by a younger, more athletic opponent. The Celtics won the first three meetings between the clubs this season, then lost five of the final six.
"It was a series that all of us wanted, really since training camp," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Wade was knocked over into some courtside seats trying to snare the final rebound, but that only prolonged the moment. James knelt in prayer for several seconds, then ran over to wrap Wade in a long embrace as the fans screamed loudly.
Next up for Miami: Either Chicago or Atlanta, in a series that might start as early as Sunday. Chicago leads the series 3-2.
"It's a great team," James said of Boston in the on-court celebration. "Like I said, I got the utmost respect for that team. They're the reason why all three of us came together, is because of what they did, that blueprint they had in '08, when they all came together. So it's a great team win and get ready for our next opponent."
Chris Bosh, the Big Three's other member, finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, including head-faking his way past Kevin Garnett for a game-tying dunk with 2:57 left. The rest was up to James.
He scored the game's final 10 points, putting to rest talk that he couldn't be effective late in games.
Ray Allen led Boston with 18 points. Garnett had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 12 and Delonte West added 10.
Former Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo finished with six points in 31 minutes for Boston, playing with what appeared to be a slimmer brace over the still-painful left elbow that he dislocated during Game 3.
The Celtics got one measure of a victory Wednesday night: Rivers said he will probably return to coach next season.
"I'm a Celtic," he said. "And I love our guys. I want to win again here. I'm competitive as hell; I have a competitive group. So we'll see. That's where I'm at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind."
Cats on All-Rookie teams
Former Kentucky players Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall have been named to the NBA's All-Rookie teams, the league announced on Wednesday.
Cousins and Wall the first team, and Bledsoe was on the second-team list.
Wall, a four-time Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month and the No. 1 overall pick for the Wizards, ranked seventh overall in assists (8.3 apg) and steals (1.75 spg), and finished second among rookies in scoring (16.4 ppg).
Cousins set Sacramento's rookie record for total rebounds (699) and averaged a team-high 8.6 boards (second among rookies). Cousins added 14.1 ppg (third among rookies), scoring in double figures in 58 games.
Bledsoe started 25 of 81 games this year for the Clippers, averaging 6.7 points, and 3.7 assists, which was third best among rookies.
Patrick Patterson, another former Wildcat, received five votes.