lebron james

History provides hope. It also provides a warning.

In a similar situation last season in the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat returned to AmericanAirlines Arena in a winner-take-all Game 7. After a 13-point victory over the Boston Celtics, they were on to the NBA Finals and, ultimately, the franchise’s second championship.

The difference is that victory came in the wake of a rousing 19-point victory in Boston, a Game 6 when LeBron James scored 45 points.

This time the Heat enter Monday’s 8:30 p.m. Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers coming off a discouraging 91-77 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, when James went for 29 points, but Dwyane Wade for only 10 and Chris Bosh just five, the lowest combined total for the latter two as teammates since the Heat’s Big Three came together in the 2010 offseason.

“It’s an opportunity for us,” James said. “It’s an opportunity and we look forward to it.”

There is, of course, no other choice but to offer optimism, with coach Erik Spoelstra giving his players Sunday off, to be bolstered Monday by the return of backup center Chris Andersen, who was suspended from Saturday’s Game 6 for his Game 5 flagrant foul against Tyler Hansbrough.

Reported by Ira Winderman of theĀ South Florida Sun-Sentinel