CHICAGO, May 27, 2011 (AFP) – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sparked a fourth-quarter rally as the Miami Heat came from behind to beat Chicago 83-80 Thursday to set up a rematch of their 2006 finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
James scored 28 points and Wade had 21 for Miami who went on an 18-3 run late in the game to beat the Bulls in five games in their best-of-seven NBA semi-finals series.
“We did it with defence,” James said. “We did it by staying together. We have been in these situations before and knew we just had to buckle down.”
The Heat are headed to the finals for the first time since 2006, when they beat the Mavericks in six games thanks to superb offensive performances by Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. James and Chris Bosh will be going for their first championship.
Game one is set for Tuesday in Miami.
The Mavericks advanced by eliminating Oklahoma City in five games on Wednesday.
Wade and James were brilliant for the Heat, who erased a 12-point deficit with just a little over three minutes left in the game. James and Wade each had eight points during the 18-3 run. With 29 seconds left, Wade hit the go-ahead jump shot.
“We have been through the fire together,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I just told them to stay with it.”
Wade did very little in the first three quarters, apparently nursing a sore shoulder.
“It went so fast,” James said. “I want to go back and watch the last four minutes.”
“There’s no sense of relief right now. We’ve still got work to do. We’ll look at this moment tonight, have a little bit of time tomorrow to go over this moment, what we just accomplished.
“But we get ready for Dallas very soon. We don’t take for granted this win and take for granted being Eastern Conference champions.”
Miami shot 37 percent from the field in the first half to trail 45-38 at half time.
League MVP Derrick Rose had a chance to tie it for the Bulls from the free throw line in the final minute, but missed his second shot. James then blocked Rose’s three-point attempt at the buzzer.
“They are a good team, that is why they made it this far,” Rose said.
Rose finished with 25 points while Luol Deng had 18 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, who lost their fourth consecutive game.
Ronnie Brewer drained a three-pointer to make it 76-64 with just under four minutes left in the fourth, and the Bulls appeared headed to victory.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau appeared dumbfounded.
“It is disappointing,” Thibodeau said. “We came up short. Have to learn from it, get ready for next year.”