The Miami Heat blew out the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, advancing to the NBA Finals in an anticlimactic ending to an excellent series.
It was never supposed to be this hard for Miami.
But they played their best game of the playoffs in Game 7.
LeBron James had 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. He also made 15 of 16 free throws (which had been one of his big weaknesses). He’s now averaging 33.8 points per game in Game 7s for his career — the highest individual scoring average in NBA history.
Dwyane Wade had his best game in months, scoring 21 points on 15 shots and grabbing as many rebounds (9) as he did in Games 5 and 6 combined.
The struggling Chris Bosh even hit a shot and got to do one of his signature yell celebrations (via @BeyondtheBuzzer):
TNTBut defence and rebounding was the difference. Indiana had been crushing Miami on the boards all series. But the Heat grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, and LeBron, Wade, and Bosh all had as many rebounds as Roy Hibbert.
Indiana began to unravel as the game went along.
They turned it over 14 times in the first half alone. Paul George — the team’s young budding superstar — only had 7 points on 9 shots and fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
Miami relentlessly drove the ball on Hibbert, eventually getting him out of the game with foul trouble.
The Pacers are a really good team with a strong, young nucleaus. But like the Oklahoma City Thunder in the elimination game of the NBA Finals last year, they fell apart in the second half against Miami.
The Heat now face the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. It’s a completely different challenge than Indiana was, and they should be more comfortable playing the small-ball style that they were most comfortable with during the season.
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