MIAMI – In many ways, this is the ending the series deserved.
Teams have played evenly most of the time, yet each had one game which they won big. One team has gotten a win and then another has responded in kind three different times.
The Pacers and Heat have literally pushed themselves to the brink-so it’s fitting the teams will have to go there to decide who is the Eastern Conference Champion. That’s why American Airlines Arena figured to be “White Hot” for reasons outside the apparel of the sellout crowd.
Yet on this night where the Eastern Conference had a chance to be turned upside down with the ousting of the defending NBA Champion, the King and his court showed that they weren’t ready to give up their throne.
Miami used a 33-16 run in the second quarter to open up a 15-point halftime lead and never looked back, blowing out the Pacers 99-76 in Game Seven to win the Eastern Conference Championship.
Indiana’s season comes to an end a game short of the NBA Finals-their deepest run in the playoffs since 2000.
NBA MVP LeBron James finished with a game-high 32 points along with eight rebounds and four assists to help Miami to its third-straight NBA Finals.
Despite an electric cloud at is series’ peak from a noise level perspective, it was the home team that came out ice-cold. The Heat started the game shooting 4-of-13 from the floor and the Pacers cleaned up on the boards in that stretch as they grabbed eight rebounds compared to three for the Heat. Indiana’s offense took advantage in the opening moments as a David West slam got the Pacers out to an early 12-6 lead.
LeBron James, who came passing in the early going, helped complete a quick Heat run with a rebound slam to get the lead back at 15-14. But the Pacers were able to climb back ahead by the end of the quarter, aided by five points by Paul George in the final 2:48 to help Indiana to a 21-19 lead after one.
But the Heat’s quick-tempo offense finally broke through in the second quarter. A quick 9-2 run got Miami to the lead before a few struggling players for the Heat finally began to find their rhythm. Ray Allen hit a trio of three-pointers and Chris Bosh finally was able to find himself after a 1-for-8 first quarter with pair of buckets to put the Heat up by ten with 5:54 to go in the half.
James also was more aggressive finding his shot in the second quarter, hitting 3-of-4 shots from the floor and scoring 12 points to give the Heat a 15-point lead at the half.
The Pacers kept the Heat from running away for most of the third quarter as Indiana got the lead down to 12 on two occasions. But Indiana failed to find offensive rhythm then began to run into foul trouble against an aggressive Heat team. Roy Hibbert and George picked up their fifth as Miami continued to attack the rim throughout the 12-minute quarter with success.
From the free throw line the Heat didn’t miss any of their eight attempts and then pushed the lead to 19 on a Wade lay-up with 1:53 to go in the quarter. Two more free throws by James in the final second gave the Heat a game-high 21 point lead with a quarter to play.
Any chance of a Pacers comeback disappeared when George fouled out with 7:34 left to go in the game, as a great season for him and the team came to an end in the Heat brought by the defending champions.