What does Chris Bosh’s strained abdomen and his teammates have in common? Each just got a gut check. And lived to tell.

The last few games of a tense Eastern Conference final showed how far the Heat have come since last summer and also where they’re headed, back to the NBA Finals and a chance to atone for their basketball sins.

They’ll arrive inOklahoma Citybent on changing perceptions about their ability to meet challenges and deliver on promises made, doing a bit of both in a foretelling 48 hours against the stubborn Celtics. They’ll play for a championship with the hunch that LeBron James is over the stage fright that infamously froze him in fourth quarters last June. They’ll start Tuesday comforted that Bosh, after an injury that left him in limbo for three weeks, is now in the running for Sixth Man Of Next Year following a new role and a terrific Game 7. And they’ll be Big Three ready with Dwyane Wade, the only one who knows what it’s like to actually sip champagne.

The Heat found out about themselves against the Celtics. They were tested, had their souls stripped bare, were thrown to the edge twice and summoned up a little fortitude, and a lot of LeBron, to win another East title. It’s an achievement they’ll get to enjoy for about five minutes until the public reminds them they haven’t done anything yet, that all they did was beat an old team, and barely at that.

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