The Miami Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year after their 117-92 blowout win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
The Heat completely dominated the Pacers in the first half and carried a 60-34 lead into halftime. LeBron James finished the first half with 15 points on 6-8 shooting while Chris Bosh contributed 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Chris Andersen, in his first action in the last two games, came off the bench and had 8 points and 8 rebounds in the first half. Combined, the Heat’s Big Three of LeBron, Bosh, and Wade finished the first half with 37 points to the entire Pacers’ team score of 34.
Miami, a notoriously poor rebounding team, crushed Indiana on the boards in the first half 23-13 and dominated the Pacers in the paint, 30-12.
The game was a complete turnaround from Game 5, especially for the Pacers’ Paul George. After scoring 31 points in the final two quarters of Game 5, George scored a total of one point in the first half of Game 6.
The 26 point deficit for Indiana was the largest the Pacers had seen since 2005 against the Boston Celtics.
The scary part for the Pacers was what LeBron told ESPN heading into halftime, “We’re not satisfied with our performance. We played well. But we expect to play well. Now we’ve got to expect excellence.”
The onslaught continued as soon as the teams came back on the floor in the second half. In fact, the lead only became bigger for Miami with the defending champions taking a 37-point lead toward the end of of the third quarter.
LeBron sat for the entire fourth with the Heat up by 33 at the start of the quarter. LeBron finished with 25 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
Wade and Bosh did play some minutes in the fourth after resting towards the end of the third. Wade had 13 points, 6 assists and 6 boards. Bosh contributed 25 points and 8 boards of his own.
Rashard Lewis continued to make a big impact outside of just scoring. Lewis was +23 for the game which only trailed LeBron who was +27 himself. Points wise, Lewis had 13 in this one. The amount of minutes that Lewis sees in the NBA Finals could depend greatly on who the opponent is.
The Pacers finally pulled all their regulars with about 4 minutes left in the game as they virtually waived the white flag. Greg Oden saw action for the first time this postseason as well with the clock ticking down.
The NBA Finals will begin on June 5th with the Heat taking on either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder.