The Indiana Pacers stated their mission before the season. They wanted the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and they wanted a potential Game seven against the Heat in their gym.
They got the one seed, but didn’t get to their Game 7.
The Miami Heat beat the Pacers 117-92 and now move on to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1984-87 Celtics. LeBron, fresh of his foul-riddled seven point Game 5, scored 11 in the first quarter before finishing with 25, even though he sat out the entire fourth quarter.
Paul George, the player many believed would be able to possibly match LeBron in a series, managed to score just one point in the first half, and padded his stats in the meaningless second half that was basically one long stretch of garbage time, finishing with 29. Miami’s lead swelled to 38 points at one point in the third, and they simply refused to let off of the gas pedal, tossing up threes and attacking the rim until the very end.
The Pacers were never the same after a hot shooting Game 1, flummoxed by constant pressure from the Miami defense, their damaged chemistry shined through and they barely even put up a fight with a potential Game 7 in Indy looming. Lance Stevenson’s “antics” will be complained about constantly in the coming weeks by network screaming heads, but tonight he was the only Pacer that showed any heart while it was still a game despite finishing with just 11 points.
Miami seemingly got better as the series went on, and now, with their bench contributing better than they have all season seem to be the most complete team left in the playoffs. With six days of rest before the Finals begin the Heat now look towards a three peat* and that “not two, not three, not four” speech in 2010 doesn’t seem so silly anymore.
The Finals start Thursday June 5 at 9 p.m on ABC.
* — Recently patented by Pat Riley