Heat off to Finals, beat Pacers 99-76 in Game 7
MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James scored 32 points and the Miami Heat powered their way back to the NBA Finals with a 99-76 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Dwyane Wade ended his struggles with 21 points for the defending NBA champions, who will host the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night to begin their third straight finals appearance.
Miami took control with a 33-point second quarter and had a huge lead for most of the second half after six mostly difficult games against the Pacers.
Roy Hibbert scored 18 points for the Pacers, but All-Star Paul George fouled out with just seven points.
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It wasn't the third quarter Indiana had hoped for. Miami extended their halftime lead to a 76 to 55 margin at the end of three.
LeBron James has 25 points for the Heat.
David West leads Pacer scoring with 14.
Miami, who trailed by two points at the end of the first quarter, now has a 15-point halftime lead.
LeBron James leads all scorers with 18.
David West continues to lead Indiana with 10 points. Paul George has 7 rebounds.
After one quarter, Indiana leads Miami 21-19.
David West has 6 points for the Pacers. Lance Stephenson and Paul George each have 5.
LeBron James has 6 for Miami.
The Indiana Pacers are feeling confident heading into Game 7 against the Miami Heat.
"We've had the same message all year. We've stayed consistent in our message, we've trusted our preparation throughout the year and tonight's not going to be any different," said David West.
The Pacers, who avoided elimination with a 91-77 win at home in Game 6, will need to win two straight games for the first time in the series to clinch a spot in the NBA Finals. Head coach Frank Vogel says being one loss away from the end of the season for a second time may help his team.
"I think that experience of just having felt it could be an advantage, but it may not be either," said Vogel.
Players say the pressure of a Game 7 won't affect their game plan.
"Not really. 'Cause at the end of the day, I've never been in the Eastern Conference Finals stage, period, and still being able to go through that and play through it. A lot of us haven't been to this stage. So we just got to find a way. It's the same name, the same game. Just got to come out and play basketball and we play our style of basketball, we'll be happy with the result," said Paul George.
"It makes it funner. We have nothing to lose. Just go out there, play free, play loose and just have fun out there," said George Hill.
Tip-off for Game 7 is 8:30 p.m. The winner will face San Antonio in the NBA Finals.