Their season, their legacy, their reign atop the NBA was all at stake, and the Miami Heat responded in a manner befitting defending champions – with a blowout.
LeBron James scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds, ailing Dwyane Wade matched his postseason high with 21 points, and the Heat ran away from theIndiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.
The Heat will play the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA title in a series that starts Thursday in Miami.
Miami led by as many as 28 points, a shocking amount for a series that had an aggregate score of Heat 569, Pacers 564 entering Monday night. The Heat actually trailed by six in the early going, were still down 21-19 after the first quarter and it was starting to look like it was going to be one of those down-to-the-wire nights.
Not even close.
Bring on the Spurs who have far more experience, are well rested, and have the best coach in the game. Should be a fine series
The Indiana Pacers played desperate Tuesday night.
They relentlessly attacked the basket, continually won the battle for loose balls, dominated the glass and, yes, turned the tables on Miami yet again.
Roy Hibbert finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds, Lance Stephenson added 20 points, and the Pacers closed the game on a 16-6 run to pull away from the defending NBA champs for a 99-92 victory.
Now, can they beat the Heat?
David West’s right hand helped the Indiana Pacers grab home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference finals.
Roy Hibbert scored 29 points, West knocked away two passes by LeBron James for huge turnovers in the final minute, and the Pacers evened the East title series with a 97-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the series on Friday night.
Paul George scored 22 points, George Hill added 18 and West finished with 13 for the Pacers, who handed the Heat just their fourth loss in their last 50 games.
The series resumes with Game 3 on Sunday night in Indianapolis.
James scored 36 points for the Heat, who got 17 points from Chris Bosh and 14 from Dwyane Wade. The Heat led 88-84 in the fourth quarter, then were outscored 13-5 the rest of the way.
And West was the biggest reason.
Could an upset be brewing? Talk to me if Indiana wins the next two games at home.
Tony Parker had 20 points and nine assists, Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs struck first in the Western Conference finals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 105-83 on Sunday.
The Spurs avoided a repeat of their Game 1 loss when the teams met two years ago in the first round. The Grizzlies went on to knock San Antonio out of the playoffs as the top seed that time.
San Antonio raced out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, then came up with a response when Memphis rallied to get within six in the second half. Both teams pulled their starters with over 5 minutes left and the Spurs leading by 21.
Quincy Pondexter led Memphis with 17 points. Grizzlies All-Star Zach Randolph missed his first seven shots and scored his only points on a tip-in with 9:26 left in the game.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.
Indiana spent the entire season perfecting its defense.
On Saturday, it produced the biggest payoff for the Pacers in nearly a decade.
Roy Hibbert’s block of Carmelo Anthony’s dunk attempt midway through the fourth quarter spurred an 11-2 run that rallied the Pacers to a 106-99 victory in Game 6 of their second-round series, sending them into their first Eastern Conference final since 2004.
New York native Lance Stephenson scored nine points in the run, finishing with a playoff career-high 25.
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks this summer, so I have to protect the paint,” said Hibbert, who signed a $58 million contract last summer. “If all else fails, meaning the offense, I have to protect the paint.”
With players from both teams standing on the court as the final seconds ticked off and Pacers fans roaring in appreciation, the sellout crowd wasted little time breaking into chants of “Beat The Heat!”
For Indiana, it sets up a postseason rematch with the defending NBA champs, the team that eliminated them last May after the Pacers had taken a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven semifinals. The Heat wound up winning Game 4 at Indiana and followed that with two more wins as Danny Granger struggled with a knee injury.
So, does Indiana have a chance against Miami? In a word no.
The West Finals tip off today, with Memphis taking on San Antonio in what should be a great series. Do NOT count the Grizzlies out.
Stephen Curry scored 22 on an injured left ankle, Harrison Barnes had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors rallied past the San Antonio Spurs97-87 in overtime Sunday to even the Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.
Jarrett Jack added 24 points in reserve and Andrew Bogut grabbed 18 rebounds to help the Warriors overcome an eight-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation. Golden State scored the first nine points of overtime to whip the yellow-shirt wearing crowd of 19,596 into a frenzy and give this topsy-turvy series another twist.
Manu Ginobili had 21 points and Tim Duncan added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who were outshot 35.5 to 38 percent.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points and hit two free throws with 1:03 left to put Memphis ahead to stay, and the Grizzlies held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 87-81 on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in this Western Conference semifinal.
Gasol scored 16 in the second half as Memphis remained unbeaten at home in the postseason.
The Grizzlies pulled out the win in an ugly performance for both teams after a three-day layoff since Game 2. After struggling at the free-throw line in Oklahoma City, the Grizzlies hit all six at the line in the final 1:03 to clinch it.
Kevin Durant scored 25 points, but only two in the fourth quarter. A 91 percent free-throw shooter in the regular season, Durant missed two with 39.3 seconds left.