Miami forward LeBron James, left, drives past Chicago guard Ronnie Brewer… (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated…)
The Miami Heat couldn't wait. It wanted the Dallas Mavericks, and it wanted them now.
Storming back from a 12-point deficit with a stunning 16-2 run, the Heat pushed aside the Chicago Bulls in a remarkable 83-80 victory Thursday night at the United Center, winning the Eastern Conference finals, 4-1.
"We had to go through the fire again tonight," Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But this team has built up a lot of resilience and toughness."
Up next are the Mavericks in a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, a series that opens at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night.
With Dwyane Wade overcoming a shaky start with a late four-point play and LeBron James adding a game-tying three-pointer, the Heat silenced a crowd expecting a Game 6 on Saturday night in Miami.
James closed with 28 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, with Wade, who tied the franchise postseason record with nine turnovers, adding 21 points. Forward Chris Bosh chipped in 20 points.
Guard Derrick Rose, who missed a key late free throw for the Bulls, led Chicago with 25 points, with forward Luol Deng adding 18.
A three-pointer by reserve forward Ronnie Brewer at the shot-clock buzzer with three minutes 53 seconds left pushed Chicago to a 76-64 lead.
But, from there, the Heat closed back within 77-72 on a three-pointer by James with 2:04 to play.
Wade converted a three-pointer with 1:30 to play and made the ensuing free throw when fouled on the play to draw the Heat within 79-76.
Rose then missed on a drive and James buried a three-pointer to draw the Heat into a 79-79 tie with 61 seconds to play.
A Rose turnover then put the Heat in possession, with James following with a 20-foot jumper to put the Heat up 81-79.
James then fouled Rose, with the Bulls guard making only the first of his two free throws, leaving the Heat up 81-80 with 25 seconds to play. It was Rose's only miss in six attempts from the line.
Bosh converted a pair of free throws with 16.8 seconds left for an 83-80 Heat lead.
The Heat blocked a Rose three-point attempt just before the buzzer.
"They're definitely a tough team to beat," a downcast Rose said. "They play well together, pass the ball. All the other guys know their role on their team."
"We just made mistakes and they fed off those mistakes," Deng said. "They made plays. … We played as hard as we can."
With Wade struggling with turnovers and teammates struggling to hit shots, the Heat went into halftime down 45-38.
The 38 points were a first-half low for the Heat in the playoffs.