LeBron James and the Miami Heat would have to endure a Game 7 before getting to the NBA Finals, I would have called you crazy. With a 27-game win streak and an innovative, position-less, high-scoring offense, the Heat looked unstoppable. However, Dwyane Wade has looked hobbled by a bad knee this playoffs, Chris Bosh had a bum ankle and the Indiana Pacers' Paul George and Roy Hibbert have had breakout post seasons. So, contrary to my expectations, we found ourselves in an Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 at American Airlines Arena.
The Pacers played an outstanding series, with their stifling defense and physical style of play drawing them nearly equal with the smaller and speedy Heat. But they were no match for the world's best player, LeBron, on his home court and the other two in the Big 3 showing up to play. The Heat won handily 99-76, advancing to their third-straight NBA Finals where they'll play Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs. Here are five reasons they achieved a rout.
LeBron James Can Defy Gravity
Listen, when you can jump so high that you nearly smack your head on the rim when you catch an ally-oop from Norris Cole, you've got an athletic advantage over the opponent. Add in the fact that LeBron James combines that otherworldly athleticism with a stunning basketball IQ, and it's hard to think the four-time MVP would be beat in a Game 7 on his home court. LeBron is the best player since Michael Jordan.
Roy Hibbert's Foul Trouble
Early in the second quarter, Pacers coach Frank Voegel benched Hibbert and George and the Heat went on an 11-4 run that swung the game. TNT commentator Reggie Miller criticized Voegel for having his 7'2" center ride the pine, you soon realized that Voegel was right to do it. Once Hibbert came back on the court, he picked up two more fouls and had to sit for the rest of the half with three. When Hibbert isn't in the game LeBron drives to the hoop with impunity, but without him out there, LeBron penetrates less. Hibbert's foul trouble kept him from playing extended minutes, and thus the Pacers lost their advantage inside.
The Pacers were atrocious with turnovers, committing 15 in the first half, which is when the game got away from them. They were much better with ball handling in the third quarter, turning it over only twice, but the game was largely over by that point.
All of the Big Three Showed Up, Not Just LeBron
After Game 5, LeBron in his press conference said that it felt like he was back in his Cleveland days. Though it may not be explicitly what he meant, many people took it as LeBron saying that he was having to win all on his own, as he did back when he played for the Cavaliers. Well, after a lackluster series for Dwyane Wade, he showed up for Game 7 with max effort. You could really see it on the offensive glass, where he was out-rebounding even Hibbert. And the fact he got to the line seven times showed he was aggressively going to the basket. Bosh wasn't great from the floor, going just 3-13, but his effort was there on defense and on the glass, with him scooping up eight boards.
Justin Bieber is a Heat fan.
How can you lose when you've got this sharp of a dresser on your side? I mean, it was Game 7, but Biebs wasn't worried: