The defending world champions have earned a ticket back to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive appearance, with a 99-76 clobbering of the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday night.
LeBron James poured in a game-high 32 points, grabbed eight rebounds, racked up four assists, and had two steals on the night- a Game 7 performance head coach Erik Spoelstra says wasn’t surprisng.
James received exceptional aid from his supporting cast who rose to the occasion for the decisive Game 7. Dwayne Wade ended his struggles with 21 points and nine rebounds, after scoring a total of only 20 points in the previous two games of the series while hindered by a sore knee. Spoelstra says Wade’s efforts were, well, Wade-like.
Chris Bosh contributed nine points and eight rebounds. Defensively, he was able to hold Indiana’s big man Roy Hibbert to just four first half points. Ray Allen added 10 points off the bench for Miami. James says his team finally executed simultaneously when it mattered most.
Miami took control with an explosive 33-point second quarter. The Heat built on a 15-point first half lead and led by as many as 28 points.
However, they also brought their defense to Game 7. Miami forced 21 turnovers and held high-scoring Paul George to 2 of 9 shooting and seven points, something Wade says was imperative.
The Heat will host the San Antonio Spurs Thursday for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Six years ago, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were shut down with a four-game Finals sweep by the Spurs. Eager for a center stage rematch, James is confident in himself and his team’s abilities this time around.
Miami swept San Antonio in their regular season series, but the Spurs coasted through the Western Conference playoffs with an impressive 12-2 record.