Big Two take Miami Heat to next round of NBA playoffs
Dwayne Wade scored 41 points, LeBron James added 28 as the Miami Heat finished off the Indiana Pacers 105-93 in Game 6. Next: Boston or Philadelphia.
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Just like that, the Miami Heat and a Big Three-Minus-One are headed back to the Eastern Conference finals.
The way Miami's dynamic duo is playing, it may not matter who's got next. "They're going to be tough to beat by anybody," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.
This was a 4-2 triumph that came down to a trilogy, Wade and James responding with the most remarkable week of their high-powered partnership, just when it looked as though the Heat were down and might be out.
Over the course of three dazzling games, James scored 98 points, grabbed 34 rebounds and dished out 24 assists. Wade had 99 points, 22 rebounds and 11 assists. Chris Bosh, sidelined by an abdominal injury, wasn't missed at all.
"In the regular season, we've had some good games," Wade said. "But I don't know if we've ever had three in a row like that in the playoffs, the way we played off each other."
Of course, nothing less than an NBA title will do in South Beach.
Two series down, two to go.
One week earlier, Miami was down 2-1 after getting thumped 94-75 in Indianapolis. The fired-up Pacers had another game on their home court and a chance to build a commanding lead.
Wade and James simply refused to let it happen.
"We understand that when Chris went out, we had to step up," D-Wade said. "The team looked to us to lead."
The banged-up Heat will get a chance to relax a couple of days before worrying about the next opponent, who will be determined in Game 7 at Boston on Saturday. The conference finals start Monday in Miami.
Bosh hopes to return at some point, but it might not matter.
Not the way Wade and James are playing.
"Chris Bosh is an awesome basketball player, but when he goes down, that just means more touches for LeBron and Wade," Vogel said. "That's not exactly an advantage."
The Heat rallied from an early 11-point deficit, riding the hot hand of Wade in the opening half. He scored 26 points by the break, tying Tim Hardaway's 16-year-old franchise record for most playoff points in the first two quarters. James hit consecutive baskets with just over a minute remaining to close it out.
David West led Indiana with 24 points and all five starters were in double figures. Balance, it turned out, was no match for Wade and James.
"Guys are disappointed but understand that it's not our time yet," West said.
In a game of spurts, the decisive one came in the closing minutes of the third quarter.