If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Miami Heat should be making the Celtics blush, regardless of what happens in the Eastern Conference finals.
LeBron James says the Heat's superteam was strongly influenced by the way that Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all able to come together and be successful in Boston.
"They set the blueprint for us when they decided to make the trade for [Garnett] and for Ray," James said, according to ESPN.com. "Seeing guys make sacrifices to come together and play as one. They set the blueprint and went out there and did it. They won a championship. They competed every year."
James, of course, joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh this offseason, and Miami now finds itself one win away from dispatching its blueprint from the playoffs.
Still, even as the Heat have the C's against the wall, Miami is taking nothing for granted.
"By no means do we feel the series is done, not against a champion like they are," head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We have tremendous respect for Boston. They've inflicted so much pain on us the last three or four years that it's hard not to have that respect."
No one knows that better than James himself. His season was ended by the Celtics in two of the last three seasons when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.