LeBron leads the charge as Indiana fail to keep up the pace.
The Miami Heat will return to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year following their 99-76 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.
Led by LeBron James’ game-high 32 points, both Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen contributed key points as the Heat had too much for their rivals.
With the “win or go home” nature of this clash, Miami came out full of energy in front of their home crowd, working with great intensity on the defensive end to put the Pacers under increassed pressure.
While the visitors suggested they could handle it during the first quarter, they fell away in the second as Miami began to assert their dominance and take a commanding lead.
The Pacers were forced into countless turnovers and were out-rebounded, while the likes of Paul George and Roy Hibbert, so effective throughout this series, were unable to get into a rhythm and fell into foul trouble.
It all conspired against Indiana, with coach Frank Vogel congratulating the defending champions on taking their game up another level on a stage where they are familiar, and went on to say that “they taught us a lesson”.
Nevertheless it has been a promising season for the Pacers, who advanced to within a game of the NBA Finals following their second round exit last year.
With Danny Granger out for most of the season, both George and HIbbert proved their ability to become genuine stars of the league, but ultimately they fell short on this occasion.
Meanwhile, Miami will now prepare for a Finals clash with the San Antonio Spurs which begins on Thursday June 6, with Game 1 taking place at the AA Arena.
It will be a third consecutive trip to the Finals for the Heat, and it will take a big effort from Gregg Popovich’s Spurs to deny them back-to-back championships.