MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Game 7.
The simple mention of it strikes fear in some fans and ignites others to cheer louder than they ever thought they could.
Saturday night, the Miami Heat and 20,000 of their closest friends will face the Boston Celtics at the AmericanAirlines Arena for all the marbles in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat will fight for their second-straight NBA Finals appearance and Boston looks for a third Finals appearance since 2008.
The Heat have ridden on the back of superstar forward LeBron James who has almost willed the Heat to victory no matter what the obstacles. No better example can be found than the MVP performance he put up in Game 6.
LeBron saved the Heat's season with 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists to force Game 7 at the AmericanAirlines Arena. LeBron has vowed to not regret Game 7 and to do whatever it takes to punch the Heat's ticket to play the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals.
"Win, lose, or draw, I'm going to go in with the mindset like I've had this whole season," James said. "And you know, we'll see what happens."
The game will be a battle between two teams that have seen their fair share of adversity. The Celtics were considered too old and were nearly broken up at the trade deadline. The Heat have been under the microscope like no other NBA team, possibly in league history.
"Winning is hard," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "Trying to get to the Finals is hard, and this is as hard as it gets. And I think we are prepared for it."
Conventional wisdom would say the Heat should be heavy favorites heading into the game. Overall in 110 Game 7's in NBA History, the home team has won 88 times. But each time the epitaph has been written on the Boston Celtics, they rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
"Both teams will come out with an appropriate level of urgency," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And that's the beauty of a Game 7. We fought and earned the right to have this on our home court. We don't take that for granted and we don't assume that that will take care of anything."
LeBron will have to have another exceptional performance when it counts the most. The Heat are in must-win mode and anything less than an NBA Championship will be considered a failure for the Big Three. Losing in the conference finals would be especially tough to swallow.
The Heat will have Chris Bosh back for the third straight game and his length and presence on both ends of the floor can only help the Heat as they try to slow down Celtics center Kevin Garnett.
"It's going to be a battle," Boston point guard Rajon Rondo said.
Both teams have nagging ailments and both teams have nearly exhausted themselves getting to this point. Saturday night it will be a battle of pride and who can dig the deepest into themselves to hold on to the fire that burns inside them to win a championship.
The two teams square off at 8:30 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
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