The Miami Heat has advanced to the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference Finals with a 99-95 win over the Washington Wizards. A record setting performance from Heat guard Dwayne Wade put the Miami one step closer to the NBA title.
A line of thunderstorms swept through Washington Saturday night, but inside the MCI Center, it was Miami's Dwayne Wade who shook up the U.S. Capital City.
Wade scored a franchise record 42 points to lead the Miami Heat to the 99-95 win over the Washington Wizards in the fourth game of the NBA's Eastern Conference semifinals. Wade scored 22 points in a dazzling third quarter in which he scored seven-for-seven from the field and eight-for-eight from the free throw line.
With star center Shaquille O'Neal on the bench for a second straight game with a deep thigh bruise, Wade says that he took advantage of the opportunity to help the Heat sweep the series, four games to none. "I mean it was a close game at that time in the third. It was just me trying to do what I can to help my team win. And the ball was in my hand every play," he said. "I was in a rhythm, so I came down, I got some fast break dunks, and I got a couple of jumpers and it just got me in a flow. So I was just trying to help my team win."
Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said that Wade's performance against the Wizards on Washington's home court was extraordinary, especially because O'Neal was on the sidelines. "Obviously [Wade] was fabulous the whole series and particularly the two games here. To step up and have games like that with Shaq not being able to play. And I think that winning two games on the road against a quality in the second round without the most dominant guy in the league really says a lot about our guys," he said.
But Miami blew and 11-point lead late in the game and Washington rallied and took the lead with less than 30 seconds left in the contest. But Eddie Jones of Miami sank a three-point basket with less than 15 seconds remaining in the game, thwarting the rally and giving Miami the win.
Miami also made history by sweeping the Wizards and the New Jersey Nets in the playoffs. This is the first time in NBA history that a team has swept the same two teams in the playoffs that it swept in the regular season.
Miami awaits the winner of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the reigning champion Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. Indiana leads that series, two games to one.