NBA Finals Heat up! Miami book fairy-tale reunion with LeBron James and the LA Lakers after six-game series win against Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat wrapped up a six-game series win to win the Eastern Conference
- They beat the Boston Celtics to set up an NBA Finals against LeBron James
- James won two titles in Miami but is now playing out west for the LA Lakers
James won back-to-back titles with the Heat in 2012 and 2013 but will now line up against them as he looks to guide the Lakers to their first Larry O’Brien trophy since 2010.
‘The main key, and it’s been like this for a very long time, if you want to win, you’re going to have to go through a LeBron James-led team,’ said Heat’s current star man, Jimmy Butler.
Miami Heat sealed their spot in the NBA Finals after winning the Eastern Conference
The Heat were considered underdogs this season but defied expectations to beat Boston
They now face former star LeBron James as he looks to guide the LA Lakers to championship
‘At the end of the day, that’s what it normally comes down to, and that’s what we got to focus in on.
‘Honestly, we can’t just focus in on him because he has so many really good players around him.
‘But you’re going to get the same test over and over again until you pass it. That test is LeBron James.’
While the Lakers go into it as favourites given they have three-time champion James on their squad, it is Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra that knows his old star better than most.
Jimmy Butler (right) is the current star of the Heat and he accepts beating LeBron is the key
The Heat have been aggressive at both ends of the floor but will be underdogs in the Finals
But for now, having overcome a dogged Celtics team 125-113 on Sunday, he wants to enjoy the moment before attention turns to Game One of the Finals.
‘A great series. It was so competitive,’ Spoelstra said. ‘I mean, in many ways, this was a seven-game series, just how competitive it was.
‘Extremely well-coached and well-put together and we are just honoured to be a part of that type of series in the conference finals, and then we get an opportunity for the next stage.
‘Our guys will look forward to it. We’re going to try to enjoy it for a night.’
The Heat are the only NBA team with six Finals appearances in the last 15 years and they are hoping a fourth title arrives come the end of a bitter battle against LeBron’s Lakers.
Erik Spoelstra (middle) coached LeBron to two titles when he was in Miami in 2012 and 2013
Bam Adebayo has been a breakout star for Miami and will play a key role defending LeBron
Speaking after sealing the Lakers’ spot in the Finals, James was reflective about Kobe Bryant, a legend of the team who died in a helicopter crash back in January.
‘Every time you put on the purple and gold you think about his legacy, you think about him and what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years,’ he said.
‘We’re going to enjoy it tonight, but we understand we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We understand there’s a bigger goal.
‘I’m extremely proud to be a part of this franchise getting back to where it belongs, and that’s playing for championships.’