Wade Re-Emerges As Heat Reached Third Straight Finals

by
Reuters
The Miami Heat reached their third straight NBA Finals with an emphatic 99-76 game seven win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday to set up a mouthwatering clash with the San Antonio Spurs.

The Miami Heat reached their third straight NBA Finals with an emphatic 99-76 game seven win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday to set up a mouthwatering clash with the San Antonio Spurs.

A loss for the defending champions in game six in Indiana had raised major questions over the form of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh but they delivered when it mattered along with an almost inevitable game high 32 points from league MVP LeBron James.

"You never want to take anything for granted," said Wade as Miami celebrated the Eastern Conference title after a 4-3 series win.

"Making it three years in a row to the finals is an amazing feat. Anything that happened in the other games didn't matter. It was just about tonight.

"We're going to the finals, it's the two best teams in the finals," he told TNT television.

Wade's form and his fitness - there have also been question marks over his knee - were always going to be crucial in this game and he ended a run of 12 games without breaking 20 points, putting up 21.

Miami looked to get Wade involved early, a strategy that worked perfectly while Bosh was the rebound presence Miami have lacked - grabbing eight off the boards.

Pacers forward Paul George has come of age during this series but he was barely a factor at the American Airlines Arena, making just seven points on 2-9 shooting.

Not for the first time, Miami made a slow start and trailed 12-6 but they clawed their way back to lead 21-19 at the end of the first quarter - although with Bosh shooting 1-8 the Heat were still far from at their peak.

They turned on the style in the second quarter though, racing to a 15 point advantage at the break (52-37) with 12 points from James in the quarter and 10 from Ray Allen.

Indiana badly needed to make an impact early in the third but there was real determination about Miami's play and their lead was never threatened.

When George fouled out at 7:43 in the fourth, the despondency was evident on the faces of the Pacers.

James was able to check out with over five minutes left and the Heat 25 points up, shaking the hand of the watching David Beckham as he left the court.

The best-of-seven finals will begin in Miami on Thursday.