The Miami Heat are three victories away from a return trip to the NBA Finals and playing as good as they have all season, even without injured forward Chris Bosh.
The Heat had their way with an aging Boston Celtics team Monday night, 93-79, and looked as if there might not be anyone capable of stopping them in their pursuit of a title.
The Heat still need to get past a Celtics team that has vowed more physical play in the future -- Rajon Rondo said the Heat have to hit the deck -- and find a way to take down whatever dominant team emerges from the Western Conference, but this season is looking more and more divine for the Heat.
It didn't always look this way, though. Heck, some were writing off the Heat a mere week ago after falling down 2-1 in their series against the Indiana Pacers. Chris Bosh was out with a strained abdomen and every LeBron James critic came out of the woodwork to deride the Heat as not capable of winning a championship.
There was even some ridiculous talk about trading away Dwyane Wade after a poor two-game stretch.
And then Wade and James combined to put together one of the best stretches in recent years. The two are clicking on all cylinders -- they combined for 54 points in Game 1 against the Celtics -- and finally reaching that potential level that everyone imagined when James left Cleveland to take his talents to South Beach.
The rest of the supporting cast without Bosh is still a work in progress. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers have both shown flashes of great play, but are still too inconsistent to take much attention off of the Heat's super duo. Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Joel Anthony are three reserve big men that the Heat will need against either the Spurs or Thunder in the finals.
But overall the Heat are looking good, really good. Wade and James are carrying the offensive load, while six different players contributed at least one soul-crushing block against the Celtics. Those 11 blocked shots energized the Heat, while similarly demoralizing a Celtics team that faced a swarm of Heat players every time one drove to the hoop.
Momentum-changing plays, especially when a guy feels like he has a good lane to the rim and someone comes over and gets a block, James said.
They robbed the Celtics of any potential momentum they had after outlasting the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games and erased any doubt as to whether Miami's big two of Wade and James was capable of knocking out the Celtics big four.
The Celtics will find some way to win a game or two at home to avoid a sweep, but Monday night showed that the Heat will undoubtedly advance to the next round. And if they continue to play at this high level, they'll win at the next round too.