The Miami Heat Advance to NBA Finals

Heat vs PacersFor the second year in a row, the Miami Heat found themselves playing a pivotal Game 7 on their home floor. While most people picked Miami to defeat Indiana in the series, after Indiana’s dominance in Game 6 and their general dominance inside throughout the series, the outcome was very much in doubt. Well, that is, until the second quarter started. LeBron James led the Miami Heat with 32 points, and helped spur a 33-16 2nd quarter run that allowed the Heat to seize control of the game. The defensive pressure and aggressive offensive attack overwhelmed Indiana, and Miami earned its third straight Eastern Conference Championship with a 99-76 win.

Coming into the game, much was being made of Dwyane Wade’s performance, or lack thereof. Wade produced very little over the last three games, shooting just 11-of-34 from the field, but in Game 7 he embraced the challenge. Wade’s aggression led to 21 points and nine rebounds, and helped balance the Miami attack.

“I’m just glad we was able to do it,” Dwyane Wade said. “It was about tonight. It was about finding a way to win at home.”

Both teams started the game sloppily. Miami missed several open looks and Indiana threw the ball all over the gym. The Heat hit only 29% of their shots in the first quarter, and Indiana used their size and hustle to open up a 12-6 lead early. After a Miami timeout, though, it was all Heat. Miami forced nine Indiana turnovers in the period and closed the gap to 21-19 after one.

It was during the second quarter that the game turned. Miami’s defensive pressure on Roy Hibbert prevented the dominant big-man from establishing position down low. The Heat’s constant double teams of Hibbert forced the ball from his hands, and his lack of patience resulted in several turnovers.

LeBron James scored 12 points in the second quarter, and Chris Bosh was able to shrug off a slow start to hit a pair of jumpers. Perhaps the most welcomed sight for Heat fans was the long-distance outburst by Ray Allen. After struggling with his jumper throughout the series, Ray Allen buried three three-pointers in the period. All this, coupled with Miami’s swarming defensive activity, helped them build an insurmountable 52-37 halftime lead. Miami forced 15 Indiana turnovers, and took 15 more shot attempts through the first half. Indiana couldn’t create extra possessions on the glass, and were outscored in the paint 20-10. The Heat’s Big-3 finally lived up to the billing, as the trio scored 35 of the team’s 52 first half points.

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Heat Take Game 5, 90-79

Heat vs Pacers
Udonis Haslem scored 16 points in Game 5. (Photo Credit: Isaac Baldizon/Getty Images)

This series has been defined, in large part, by dominance. Indiana has dominated the glass, holding a +42 edge in rebounding heading into Game 5, and controlled the middle. Through much of the first half, Indiana used their height and length to their advantage yet again, beating up Miami’s frontcourt and building a 44-40 lead going into halftime. The Pacers netted the first basket of the third quarter, but the Heat responded with a 7-2 run at that point. LeBron James dominated the third quarter, and after outscoring the Pacers 30-13 in the period, the Heat held on to win Game 5, 90-79.

LeBron James scored 16 points, dished four assists and grabbed four rebounds in the third quarter to help Miami take total control of both the game and the series. After the win, the Heat is now one win away from their third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

“That’s what I came here for,” LeBron James said, “to be able to compete for a championship each and every year.”

LeBron James and Udonis Haslem spurred Miami through a dominant third quarter run to seize the game. A scrum under Indiana’s basket that involved a George Hill offensive foul and technical fouls on David West, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem, seemed to spark Miami in the quarter. LeBron James buried 7-of-10 shots in the period, while Udonis Haslem netted all five of his field goal attempts for 10 points. Over that same span, the Indiana Pacers made just 3-of-14 field goal tries, managing just 13 points, six rebounds and one assist in the quarter.

“That’s LeBron showing his greatness,” said Heat head coach Erik Spolestra, “and making it look easy.”

After the game, Indiana head coach Frank Vogel was asked if there was anything a team could do when James gets on a roll like the one he was on in the third quarter.

“I don’t really know,” Vogel answered. “He was pretty special tonight. There’s no question about it.”

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