Eastern Conference Finals Game Six: Indiana Pacers 92 – Miami Heat 117
The Indiana Pacers talked all season about the importance of home-court advantage in the playoffs. The Miami Heat didn’t want to leave anything to chance in a Game Seven back in Indiana, and instead closed out their series with a 117-92 win over the top seed in the east. As the Heat get ready to play in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, they’ll wait to find out who wins the Western Conference Finals. Whichever team it is, they’ll be matched up with one of the two teams that they’ve played in the last two seasons Finals, winning both series for back-to-back NBA Championships.
LeBron James led the Heat with 25 points. He was much more effective in Game Six than in Game Five, playing a team-high 32 minutes. Chris Bosh also continued his effectiveness with 25 points of his own, shooting an impressive 10-14 from the field. Chris Anderson suited up for the first time in three games, leading bench players with 9 points on 4-4 shooting, while also nabbing a team-high 10 rebounds in just 13 minutes.
This is the third straight season that the Heat have beaten the Pacers to eliminate them from contention. This year was expected to be much tougher than most, as the Pacers had the best record in the East for majority of the season. However, things fell apart for Indiana towards the latter part of the season, which could have effects on what the Pacers do in the offseason.
Paul George had a game-high 29 points for the Pacers, though he did just shoot 8-18 from the field. David West and Lance Stephenson were the only other Indiana players to score in double digits, with 16 and 11, respectively. Roy Hibbert, who could have a tumultuous offseason after falling apart at the end of the season, had just 8 points and was a relative disappointment throughout the series.
The Heat are the first team since the Boston Celtics to make the NBA Finals four consecutive years in a row. The only other team to accomplish that feat is the Lakers from 1982-1985. The last team to win three NBA Championship in a row was the Lakers from 2000-2002, as they were led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
The Heat will now patiently wait for the Thunder and Spurs to finish their series. They’ll appreciate the extra few days of rest, especially if that series goes to seven games. With the way that series has been going, with each home team winning in decisive fashion, it very well could go on for a few more days at least. Whenever that series starts, check sportspicks.com for odds as to who could win the NBA Finals. The way things stand now, the Heat are at 23/20, the Spurs are at 11/10, and the Thunder are 8/1.