Miami Heat Destroy Indiana Pacers, Advance to Third Consecuitve NBA Finals Appearance
In what was the most compelling and competitive series of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers to advance to face the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. LeBron James and co. will be making their third straight appearance in the Finals, losing to the Mavericks in 2011 and defeating the Thunder in 2012. The Heat's convincing 99-76 Game 7 victory quieted any doubters and should make the Heat favorites against the Spurs.
As lopsided as the final score was, the Pacers surprisingly played well early on. Unfortunately for them, the one quarter effort was all they could muster as the game slipped away early in the second half.
The Heat entered the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals series with questions surrounding the team. Dwyane Wade, 9 time NBA All-Star and 2 time NBA Champion, was coming into Game 7 struggling mightily. His health and effort were an issue throughout the series, but Wade stepped up huge when it counted most. Wade's effort was unmatched by any player on the Pacers, allowing him to grab 6 offensive rebounds. He finished with 21 points and was perfect from the line.
James, coming off a 4th MVP award, carried the Heat through the first part of the series against Indiana. James again played tremendously in the deciding game, scoring 32 points with 8 rebounds. James has been such a steadying force for Miami and should continue to play at a high level in the Finals.
The Pacers most disappointing effort of the Playoffs came at the least convenient time for them. After the first quarter, the Pacers came out flat on both sides of the ball. Indiana lost out on the boards and committed way too many turnovers early on. Paul George, who had been Indiana's most consistent scorer, only scored 7 points and was in foul trouble late. George's strong play against James and Wade in the series may have propelled him to Superstar status, but he'll need to perform better in the Playoffs if he hopes to reach the level those stars are on.
Pacers' Center Roy Hibbert led the team in scoring with 18 and rebounds with 8. Hibbert was in foul trouble much of the second half and picked up his 5th foul in the third quarter. He was fantastic in the Playoffs this year and he'll look to solidify himself as one of the best big men in the league next season.
Indiana should take pride in their play this year and build on their success. They are a very young team and continuously getting better. If Danny Granger can return healthy next year, and they can improve their bench, the fate they suffered this season could be different next year.
The Miami Heat hold home-court advantage in the NBA Finals via their NBA best regular season record. The NBA Finals will be a clash of styles as the up-tempo, flashy Heat take on the fundamentally sound Spurs. No matter what team you're a fan of, the NBA Finals will be can't miss basketball.