Court Vision: Miami blasts its way to 4th straight Finals as Pacers wilt
Indiana's season ended pitifully and the Heat surged in an impressive 117-92 victory to win the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2.
Here's what we learned on Friday as the Miami Heat eliminated the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to win their fourth straight Eastern Conference title and fourth straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
• There's time enough to talk about how miserable the Pacers are, and we'll get there. But let's take a moment to appreciate Miami. Not only for reaching the Finals for the not 1st, not 2nd, not 3rd, but 4th straight time, but for the way in which they turned it on in these playoffs. They have dominated each series, losing only thrice on their way to crushing the competition. Yes, the East is terrible. But Miami was special once again.
• And in Game 6, just as it was for this season, LeBron James was yet again the best player not on the floor, not in the state, not the country, not the world, but the galaxy. His control over the game has expanded so fully that he plays like he's got a cheat code. He intercepted a second-quarter pass by leaping higher than anyone else can, wrenching it down, and then pushing the ball up full speed. When the defense set, he simply reset the offense, then patiently waited. Later he blew past his defender, drew two defenders, faked the layup and then threw the ball to the corner with perfect accuracy.
• In short, he's superhuman. But more than that, he's a fully-actualized superhuman now. He understands his game, the team's game, the game, at such a high level. He is patient and controlled, aggressive and powerful, engaged and fearless. He's a composer and an engineer and the hammer and the nail all at once.
• But it wasn't just James. The entire Heat team came with their identity. Rashard Lewis had yet another good game. You can't really count on that, but things happen, and it was more of a sign of how in tune this team was with itself than anything. Chris Bosh was monstrous, tearing through double-teams, punishing the Pacers when they played off, and dominating all around.
• Dwyane Wade had yet another strong performance. Chris Anderson crashed the glass. Greg Oden didn't get hurt. Everything came up Millhouse for the Heat.
• Now, the Pacers.
• It's over, finally. Mercifully, the Pacers' woeful season came to a close so we don't have to watch this dysfunctional, self-loathing, out-of-sync team try and make it to the Conference Finals... wait a minute.
• They did make the Conference Finals!
• So on the one hand, this shows you how terrible the East was, that the Pacers could still make it. On the other, this shows that Indiana still reached the baseline for what's acceptable. They still finished second in their conference.
• But wow did they finish second.
• Sometime in the future, the story of what happened to this team will get out. It may not be this year, or next. But eventually the true story of what happened last year will come out, and it should be epic. Because somewhere along the way, a great team went awry, and never recovered.
• The Pacers' efforts in their final two games was beyond pathetic. It was like watching the Milwaukee Bucks in February. They just didn't care. They were beaten and they knew it, and they were kind of OK with it.
• There are X's and O's here, the small ball approach killing Roy Hibbert 's effectiveness, how Paul George 's 29 points is a fiction compared to his actual impact, how the Heat attacked David West , how the spacing worked, but really, this was just the Heat being superb and the Pacers being pitiful.
• Lance Stephenson did his (bad) thing:
• And again:
• The Heat will travel for Game 1 of the Finals vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
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