Tim Reynolds

Editor’s note: Saturday night’s NBA playoff game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics was not completed in time for this edition. For the result, visit www.ohio.com.

MIAMI: A return to the Eastern Conference finals — no small achievement by any measure — is nice, though it’s far from the oft-stated goal for reigning NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James and the Miami Heat. They’ll host Game 1 of the East title series on Monday night against either the Philadelphia 76ers or Boston Celtics, both of those teams having been ousted from last year’s playoffs by the Heat in five games.

“You can’t just show up, no matter who you’re playing against,” James said Saturday, when the Heat resumed practice after taking one day off to rest up and recover from a grind against the Pacers. “We have to prepare the same way we’ve done the first two rounds — and even prepare ourselves even more. As the rounds go, the competition grows, so we look forward to the challenge.”

Beating the New York Knicks brought one or two quick moments of excitement, as did topping the Pacers, but neither provided the ultimate moment.

“The first year in Cleveland, when we beat Washington in that first-round series, it was an achievement for not only myself and my teammates but for our franchise, which hadn’t been to the playoffs in a long time,” James said. “Those days are over. My aspiration is to go win a championship now. So those days are over.”

Of course, the main source of inspiration remains the championship trophy.

“You prepare to go out there and try to play at a high level,” James said.