Behind a sensational team effort, the Miami Heat defeat the Indiana Pacers 99-76 and have moved on to face the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Following game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, many experts and NBA people, including myself, believed that game seven would either be a closely contested battle or a lopsided victory in favor of the Pacers. If the Heat were going to have any chance at moving on, they were going to need more than just a 30 point effort from LeBron James to make that happen.
While LeBron James was still the teams leading scorer (32 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), there was a host of other Miami Heat players that contributed to the lopsided victory. Dwayne Wade returned to form tonight in what was easily his best performance of the playoffs with a 21 point and nine rebound night. After starting the game 3-for-3 from behind the arc, Ray Allen finished with 10 points and Chris Bosh contributed on the boards with nine rebounds.
While the offense for the Miami Heat was good, the defense was excellent. After being down two points at the end of the first quarter, the Heat took a 52-37 lead into halftime and never looked back. Despite the fact that the Heat shot just 39 percent from the field, they still held the Pacers to a playoff low 76 points while forcing 21 turnovers. Miami dominated on the boards for the first time this series by out-rebounding the Pacers 43-36 including 28 defensive rebounds.
Adding to the lopsided victory was the foul trouble that Pacers stars Roy Hibbert and Paul George got into in the second half of the game. In the third quarter, both Hibbert and George picked up their fifth fouls which forced both players to sit. The Heat then gained the advantage both in sheer talent and size and were able to stretch the lead out. Not long into the fourth quarter, George fouled out and finished the game with just seven points. Roy Hibberts streak of double-doubles came to an end after he finished the night with 18 points and eight rebounds.
If the Miami Heat can come close to duplicating their game seven team performance, the 2013 NBA Finals will certainly become an instant classic. Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James all showed signs of the “Big Three” of old. Bench players Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, and Chris Anderson all stepped up and contributed to the victory.
The NBA Finals are set and the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are set to do battle. For the Miami Heat, this is the third straight season in which they have advanced to the Finals and will have a chance to defend their title.
Game one of the NBA Finals will be this Thursday, June 6th, in Miami. Tipoff is set for 9PM EST and will be on ABC.