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Revisiting the Heat-Celtics Rivalry

Banished from the playoffs once again before the NBA Finals, LeBron James had enough. The Cavs, no matter their regular season win total, could not beat the East’s elite teams when it came to the playoffs. The fourth seeded Boston Celtics emphatically snatched away home court from the first seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. They finished them off in Boston in 6 games. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen took great pride in beating “The King” after forming the East’s first “Big 3.”

Frustrated, James took his talents to the Miami Heat where he joined with Eastern All-Stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for a stronger chance to win an NBA Championship. Since the three came together in the summer of 2010, LeBron James has played in every NBA Finals matchup. That began with the decimation of the Boston Celtics. The rivalry all in all was short lived due to the trades of Rondo, Pierce, and Garnett.

Allen left to go to Miami in free agency after being actively shopped in trade talks.

Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Heat

2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The bad blood had displayed between the Heat and Celtics during their regular season match-up. They split the series 2-2, but had not beaten the Heat since they traded Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After the trade, the Celtics barely won over half of their remaining regular season games. The defending Eastern Conference Champions appeared vulnerable.

The Heat beat the old guards and former Eastern Conference Champions in five games, marking a power shift. Ever since this year, no team without LeBron James has won the Eastern Conference Finals.

Dwayne Wade delivered an electric performance with 38 points to lift the Heat in game one, 99-90. Chris Bosh showed dominance on the glass, grabbing 12 rebounds for a game high. LeBron James added 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Even James Jones stepped up to net 25 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Heat had made a statement: there was a new “Big 3” in the East. They followed up their statement by defending home court once again 102-91. LeBron James had 35 points while Paul Pierce only netted 13. Boston’s Big 3 combined for 36 points on 15 for 38 shooting.

Going back to Boston, the Celtics grabbed Game 3 97-81, stopping the Heat with stifling defense and a strong performance from Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, scoring 70 points on 26 for 51 shooting.

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce

The Heat would hold the Celtics at 90 points and under for the rest of the series, winning the next two games and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics watched from home as another dynasty just began its dominance.

2012 Eastern Conference Finals

After losing to Miami in the second round the year before, the Celtics had to find their grit and toughness. Ratcheting up their defense, they managed to avoid Miami until the Eastern Conference Finals, where they almost stopped them. A blast from LeBron’s past, Jason “The Jet” Terry, had beaten the King in the 2011 NBA Finals as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Jet’s signature moment came as he nailed a contested three as James attempted to close him out. After, he extended his arms as if he were a plane, all to the Mavs fans’ delight.

His signature moment this series? A LeBron James poster on a fast break, courtesy of a back pass from Norris Cole.

Despite the Heat’s upper hand, The Celtics wouldn’t be pushed over like last time. The series went to 7 games, with many tough battles. Chris Bosh did not p

The Heat claimed Game 1 without Chris Bosh. LeBron James posted 32 points in their first win, and Dwayne added 22 as well.

Chris Bosh remained out for Game 2 as well, leaving LeBron James and Dwayne Wade to take on the Celtics Big 3 plus Rondo, who had 44 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds in an awe-inspiring effort. However, LeBron James posted 34 points along with a standout effort from Mario Chalmers with 22, allowing them to withstand the Celtics, 115-111.

LeBron James

Going back to Boston, the Celtics were determined to make more of a mark than the year before. They jumped on the opportunity, taking both games and heading back to Miami with the series tied. Wade missed a buzzer-beating three at the end of Game 4. The Celtics won 93-91.

Stunning the Heat, Boston managed to win 3 in a row and steal all of the momentum in the series. Chris Bosh returned in Game 6, one of LeBron James’s greatest games.

The Heat returned to Boston with their back against the wall. The Celtics were on the verge of returning to the NBA Finals, and the Heat looked beatable.

LeBron James scored 45 points on 19-26 shooting, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists as he put the team on his back to keep the series alive. Wade added 17 points, and he and LeBron combined for nearly two thirds of the team’s 98 points. Their defense held the Celtics below 80 for the second time in the series.

James’s impressive performance seemed to sink the Celtics. Returning to American Airlines Arena did the trick for the Heat. They beat the Celtics by double digits in Game 7, 101-88. The Celtics bench only scored two points the entire game. The Heat’s Big 3 combined for 73 points as they overtook Boston for the new dynasty in the Eastern Conference.