NBA Eastern Conference Finals (TV, Schedule, Game Information): Miami and Indiana will clash in Game 7

2013 nba playoffs
2013 nba playoffs
Jun 1 2013 Indianapolis IN USA Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George 24 battles for position with Miami Heat small forward LeBron James 6 during the second half in game six of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse The Pacers won 91 77 Brian Spurlock USA TODAY Sports

Miami and Indiana have each won three games in their best of seven series. With everything on the line in Monday’s Game 7, what can we expect?

Status: Series tied 3-3
Date: Monday, June 3rd
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: AmerianAirlines Arena (Miami, FL)

Heat and Pacers will battle one final time for right to move on to NBA Finals
With a 91-77 win on Saturday, the Indiana Pacers extended their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Miami Heat. Now, all of the chips are on the table for tonight’s Game 7 with the winner moving on to the NBA Finals with a date to meet the San Antonio Spurs.

Indiana has shown plenty of heart in this series, but will need another strong game if they want to pull off the series upset. All things considered, it’s fair to say their backs are against the wall. Since the NBA moved to its current playoff format back in 1984, road teams are a dismal 2-16 in Game 7 matchups in the conference finals or NBA Finals. That doesn’t bode well for Indiana, but it’s far from a reason to count the Pacers out in this game.

Indiana nearly won Game 1 on the road before losing at the buzzer in overtime on a last-second LeBron James layup. After that disappointment, the Pacers then went on to win Game 2 in Miami. They weren’t competitive in Game 5 in Miami, but the fact remains that Indiana has played well on the road. And when you factor in that the Pacers lead the season series, winning five out of nine games, if any team can win a Game 7 on the road against the Heat, it’s defensive-minded Indiana.

The fact that the Heat are getting less from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh has been widely discussed here. But it’s not just those two that are causing problems for the team – the Heat are also getting less from key reserves Ray Allen and Shane Battier. Allen had only 13 combined points in the past two games and Battier has been scoreless. Miami may be able to survive with Wade and Bosh struggling if other players step up as Udonis Haslem did in Game 5. But that hasn’t happened at times in this series. Playing Game 7 at home may provide a boost, but there’s no guarantee that Miami will have anyone step up behind LeBron James – and that should concern the Heat.

One positive for the Heat is the return of backup forward Chris Andersen. Andersen, who was suspended for Game 6 for his role in an altercation with Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough, will get back onto the court. He was replaced mostly by Joel Anthony in Game 6 and his energy off the bench should help the team.

Meanwhile, whichever team advances will have a tough task against the Spurs. While Miami and Indiana have been grinding it out, San Antonio’s been relaxing and twiddling their thumbs, waiting for their opponent to be determined. Normally, playing and keeping fresh would be a good thing, but in the case of the Spurs, the rest is welcome since so many of their key players are older.

Should Indiana win, they’ll certainly have deserved the right to play for the championship. But there’s little doubt that the NBA would rather have a Heat-Spurs finale. Both teams were arguably the best in their respective conferences and the Spurs’ veterans playing for what could be the last title vs. the defending champions is a compelling storyline.

The NBA Finals will begin on Thursday night.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');