NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Heat rout Pacers, 99-76 to advance to NBA Finals

2013 nba playoffs
2013 nba playoffs
Jun 3 2013 Miami FL USA Miami Heat center Chris Bosh 1 reacts after hitting a three point basket against the Indiana Pacers in the second quarter during game 7 of the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at American Airlines Arena Steve Mitchell USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat haven’t always been at their best in their series against the Indiana Pacers. But on Monday night, they proved they were the better team – once and for all.

Heat easily win Game 7 over Pacers, 99-76
Many picked the Miami Heat to win their Game 7 over the Indiana Pacers. What wasn’t expected, though, was the ease with which they did it. The Heat not only won the decisive game of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers but did so in convincing fashion, with a 99-76 victory at home.

For Miami, the problem throughout the series has been getting consistent help for Lebron James. But in Game 7, that wasn’t an issue. Dwyane Wade had 21 points on 7-16 shooting and led the team in rebounds with nine. Center Chris Bosh fell just short of a double double with nine points and eight rebounds. Bosh didn’t shoot well, but his rebounding was far more important than his offense. The duo made sure that James didn’t have to do everything himself and showed that when all three of them contribute, the team is difficult to beat. Both Wade and Bosh played their best games in the last three contests of the series.

In particular, Wade’s effort was significant. His 21 points were the most in this series and tied for the most in the entire postseason. It was also more than he had in the last two games combined. Wade had five turnovers, but the nine boards he had were absolutely huge. It might be too much to expect this effort out of him every game, but he came up big when it counted.

James led the Heat with 32 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

But it wasn’t just about getting production from the Big Three. For the first time in the series, the Heat took control on the boards. Miami won the rebounding battle, 43-36 and that was just as big of a reason why they are advancing to face the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. And on top of that, the Heat also got some good production off the bench. Ray Allen and Chris Andersen had only a total of six points in their past two games. But the pair had 17 tonight as the team got Andersen back from his Game 6 suspension.

Meanwhile, Indiana simply didn’t respond well to the pressure of a Game 7. Several players showed up, led by Roy Hibbert, who had 18 points and eight rebounds. But, overall, the Pacers didn’t play well and were extremely sloppy with 21 turnovers. In addition, their biggest star, Paul George, was nowhere to be found. George didn’t play well, fouling out late and finishing with seven points, shooting only 2-9 from the field. And on a night when James, Bosh, and Wade were clicking, Indiana could ill afford to have George struggle as much as he did.

Another problem for Indiana was the lack of a bench. All series long, they’d gotten by without getting much from their reserves. But with a struggling George, the team could have used something from the bench. And in 53 minutes of action, the backups scored a grand total of only 14 points. Eight of those came in the last few minutes when the starters were pulled and the game was well out of reach. After ensuring they secure their core players, mission number one for Indiana in 2013-14 should be an easy one – upgrade the bench.

Miami now moves on to the difficult task of defending their championship … and a few things are working against them. The Spurs will enter the Finals well rested, having swept the Memphis Grizzlies and finishing their series in the western conference last Monday. I don’t doubt that a long layoff could adversely affect many teams, but the Spurs have a lot of veterans on their team. You never can tell just how a team will respond to having so many days off, but the extra rest should do more to help them than hurt them.

San Antonio also has been playing extremely well and the Heat will have their work cut out for them with another tough matchup. Unlike Indiana playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, San Antonio has had numerous trips to the NBA Finals and for veterans Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, this won’t be new.

The good news for the Heat? Miami has home court advantage in the series. Should the series stretch out to a seventh game, the Heat will have a huge edge having the benefit of the home crowd.

The NBA Finals will begin on Thursday night in Miami.

author avatar
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');