Dwyane Wade scored 41 points and the Miami Heat topped the Indiana Pacers 105-93 to advance to the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat will play the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers in the next best-of-seven series beginning May 28 in Miami. Philadelphia visits Boston tomorrow in the final game of their series.
“It was a competitive, hotly contested series and that’s what it should be remembered for,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team was without Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman because they were suspended for striking Pacers players in Game 5. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but the guys were able to tough it out.”
LeBron James had 28 points and Wade grabbed 10 rebounds for the Heat, who trailed 53-51 at halftime at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Heat outscored the Pacers 28-16 in the third quarter.
“We would have had to play our best to beat them, and we didn’t play our best,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “Wade and James going like they were going tonight, they’re going to be tough to beat by anybody.”
David West had 24 points and George Hill contributed 18 for the Pacers, who had an 11-point lead with five minutes left in the first quarter.
The Pacers committed 22 turnovers, which the Heat converted into 26 points.
“The guys were maybe pressing a little too much,” Vogel said. “Some (turnovers) just came from being a little too excited. A lot of these guys are new to this level of play, it’s just growing pains. But I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”
The Heat won their only NBA title in 2006, while the Pacers have never won an NBA championship. Indiana won the last of its three American Basketball Association (ABKB:US) titles in 1973.
The San Antonio Spurs open the Western Conference finals at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder on May 27.
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