LeBron James has often said he's willing to do whatever it takes to win.
So it comes as no surprise he said after the morning shootaround he was willing to play 48 minutes against the Boston Celtics Saturday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The winner advances to meet Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals, which begin Tuesday.
"I prepared for it in Game 6 to play the whole game," James said. "[Coach Erik Spoelstra] only gave me a couple minutes there. I'm focusing on not coming out."
James is coming off a 45-point effort in Game 6 that tied the series at 3. He played 44 straight minutes before leaving when the game was already decided. Spoelstra tried to substitute James in the third quarter, but he waved it off.
"Yeah, he tried to take me out but I wasn't ready to come out," James said.
James played with an emotionless facial expression, a look teammate Mario Chalmers referred to as "ugly' in the post-game. James set the record straight, saying the description was off base.
"That's never happened in my life," James said. "Focused look, I'll take that."
The Heat are trying to secure a second consecutive spot in the Finals while the Celtics are going for their third appearance since 2008. Spoelstra said he will announce at game-time if forward Chris Bosh will start. He has come off the bench the past two games since missing nine straight because of strained lower abdominal muscle.
"It's totally irrelevant," Bosh said of whether he starts. "I think it will be irrelevant for us as long as we're playing. It really doesn't matter to me. I just want to be out there I think we have a good thing going right now and I will continue to come off the bench as long as it's good."
With James and Bosh in comfort zones, the remaining Big Three member is trying attain similar status. Although productive for stretches, guard Dwyane Wade has struggled throughout the series with slow starts.
"I know everybody looks at that final line on the box score and that's the only thing people are concerned with," Spoelstra said. "He made big plays. He played the game that allowed us to win."
Wade said part of the difficulty is the Celtics double-teaming him in the first half. It has disrupted his rhythm and forced him at times to defer to James.
"It's not the easiest thing to do," Wade said of facing double-teams. " When you get looks that you normally knock down, you're so used to being doubled that you're out of your rhythm. But you know what, you just got to stick with it. I've had better second halves than I've had first halved. If I can pick one, I'd pick the second half."
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