Gritty Pacers can send LeBron, Heat packing
After outclassing the Miami Heat in a 91-77 victory on Saturday, the Indiana Pacers have earned a do-or-die opportunity to reach the NBA Finals for just the second time in franchise history in tonight's Game 7.
The Heat, who are 6-2 at home this postseason, can become just the sixth NBA franchise to make three consecutive finals appearances.
Pacers forwards Roy Hibbert and David West have wreaked havoc on Miami's ability to drive to the basket, secure rebounds on both ends of the floor or develop a rhythm on offense, which could be a decisive factor in tonight's elimination game.
"Myself and David [West], we throw ourselves in the fray, in the paint," Hibbert told reporters after Game 6. "We like to muck it up."
Throughout the series, the Heat have become increasingly reliant on four-time MVP LeBron James to will the team to victory. James has led Miami in scoring in all six contests and is responsible for 29.8% of the team's points in the series. For the Heat to win, peripheral players such as Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem must contribute significantly on offense.
This matchup is going to be a physical, hotly contested war of attrition, with the winner slated to take on a well-rested San Antonio Spurs team starting Thursday.
Scott Fontana's predictionAs great as he is, LeBron James can’t pull this series out on his own. Getting Chris Andersen’s energy off the bench back for Game 7 will spark Miami to greater success when the team is in a lull, but his magic can only last for 15 minutes or so.Unless Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh regain All-Star form, the Heat will flame out tonight. And flame out they shall, as Roy Hibbert and the Pacers set up the NBA’s first all-ABA-alumni finals against the Spurs.