Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Heat returns to NBA Finals, rout Pacers

MIAMI — For the entirety of the regular season, the supremacy of the Heat in the Eastern Conference was brought into serious question by the Pacers.

Then came the playoffs.

And the question was answered — emphatically.

The Heat became the third franchise in NBA history to reach the title series in four consecutive seasons, a laugher of a conference-title finale getting it there again Friday night. LeBron James and Chris Bosh each scored 25, and Miami eliminated the Pacers for the third straight year with a 117-92 romp in Game 6 of the East championship series.

"I'm blessed. Very blessed. Very humbled," James said. "And we won't take this opportunity for granted. It's an unbelievable franchise, it's an unbelievable group. And we know we still have work to do, but we won't take this for granted. We're going to four straight Finals and we will never take this for granted."

Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each scored 13 for Miami, which trailed 9-2 before scoring 54 of the next 75 points to erase any doubt by halftime. The Heat set a franchise record with it 11th straight home postseason win, going back to the final two games of last season's NBA Finals, leading by 37 at one point.

Indiana led the East for much of the regular season, one where the Pacers were fueled by the memory of losing Game 7 of the East finals in Miami a year ago. So they spent this season with a clear goal: Toppling Miami as kings of the East. The Pacers were two games better in the regular season. They were two games worse in the postseason. Game 7, this time, would have been in Indianapolis. The Pacers just had no shot of making it happen, not on this night.

"The group loves to compete and loves to compete at the highest level, and be pushed to new levels," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Now, the Celtics and Lakers have company. Until Friday, they were the only teams to reach the Finals in four straight years.

"It's all about 15 special men and what they've been able to accomplish these last four years," said Heat managing general partner Micky Arison, who handed the East title trophy to Greg Oden. "Just a little bit more work to do, but I'm really proud of the incredible job that these guys have done."

Heat 117, Pacers 92

INDIANA (92): George 8-18 8-10 29, West 8-11 0-0 16, Hibbert 1-3 6-6 8, G.Hill 4-11 1-3 9, Stephenson 4-9 0-0 11, Scola 1-4 0-0 2, Watson 1-2 0-0 2, Copeland 2-6 1-1 6, Sloan 1-3 2-4 5, Butler 1-1 0-0 2, L.Allen 1-1 0-0 2, Mahinmi 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-69 18-24 92.

MIAMI (117): James 8-12 9-9 25, Lewis 5-11 0-0 13, Bosh 10-14 4-6 25, Chalmers 2-6 0-0 4, Wade 6-12 0-0 13, R.Allen 1-4 0-0 3, Andersen 4-4 1-2 9, Cole 0-2 2-2 2, Battier 2-3 2-2 8, Douglas 2-2 0-0 6, Haslem 3-3 0-0 6, Jones 1-3 0-0 3, Oden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 44-76 18-21 117.

Indiana 13 21 24 34— 92

Miami 24 36 31 26— 117

3-Point GoalsIndiana 10-25 (George 5-10, Stephenson 3-6, Sloan 1-2, Copeland 1-3, West 0-1, G.Hill 0-3), Miami 11-26 (Lewis 3-7, Douglas 2-2, Battier 2-3, Bosh 1-2, Jones 1-3, R.Allen 1-3, Wade 1-3, Chalmers 0-1, Cole 0-2). Fouled OutWest. ReboundsIndiana 33 (George 8), Miami 45 (Andersen 10). AssistsIndiana 14 (G.Hill, Sloan, Hibbert 3), Miami 24 (Wade, James 6). Total FoulsIndiana 17, Miami 22. Flagrant Fouls—Stephenson. A20,021 (19,600).

     
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