His Airness and
Robin Scottie Pippen certainly come to mind. Back in the 90’s, the NBA and its fans saw Michael Jordan and Pippen display unparalleled athleticism and skill that allowed the tandem to terrorize their opposition with incredible offensive games.
Longtime Pacers fans, along with Larry Bird – now the chief executive of the Pacers – can surely remembers those days, and this series against the Miami Heat proved that when both players are focused, Wade and James may be just as scary and just as deadly.
Things were supposed to be difficult for the Heat in Game 6 with the absence of both Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, but Wade wrote his own script and decided that all they needed was a big dose of himself and a sprinkle of James to move past the Pacers while advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. (Boxscore here.)
Chris Sheridan discussed the Heat’s victory, along with their prospects against the Celtics, 76ers, Thunder and Spurs this morning on Sporsttalk 790 The Ticket in Miami. Click to listen.
From Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: “This was Dwyane Wade’s very best — his Ninth Symphony, his Ulysses, his roundhouse, double-legged dropkick from the top rope. In a rough-and-tumble second-round series that featured blood and flagrant fouls, cheap shots and suspensions, Wade delivered the final blow Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He scored 41 points in the decisive game of the series, leading the Heat into the Eastern Conference finals with a 105-93 victory against the Pacers. Although the series was peppered with hard fouls and trash talk throughout, there was none of that in the final game. There was just a whole lot of Wade doing things that reminded all that watched of the 2006 NBA Finals and delivering a performance that will live forever. LeBron James, who smartly deferred to Wade on a night that Wade could hardly miss, called his teammate “spectacular from the beginning to the end.” James was absolutely right about that. Wade’s 41 points came on 17 of 25 shooting. He scored 20 points in the second quarter alone, tying a Heat postseason franchise record, and also had 10 rebounds.”
From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “But there was also James dropping the hammer, pouring in 28 points in the supporting role including seven straight in the final two minutes of the game that finished off the No. 3 seed and guaranteed the Heat their second straight Eastern Conference finals berth. James made 12 of 23 shots and added seven assists and three steals. The totals for the last three games, the Heat’s reversal from the brink after falling down 2-1, are wild. James averaged 32.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and eight assists on 55 percent shooting. Wade averaged 33 points (he scored 99 in the three games, James 98), 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 62 percent shooting. Those numbers for Wade come as a response to the worst playoff moment of his career in Game 3, where he scored five points on 2-of-13 shooting and looked like he had just eaten a very large but instantly regrettable meal. When the Heat doctors drained his knee last week they must’ve injected some venom.”
After the game, Wade wore this – much to the chagrin of James – but the man is entitled to his own fashion sense after a performance of such high magnitude, right?
The Heat will now have a chance to rest until Monday as they watch the outcome of the Sixers-Celtics on Saturday to determine their next opponent. The game tips off at 8 p.m. EST, and if you believe the Celtics are a lock, you should read this first.
The advantage was supposed to be on their side when Bosh went down in Game 1. What they failed to anticipate was how much more responsibility the two superstars of the Heat would shoulder, which turned out to be their ultimate downfall.
“Chris Bosh is an awesome basketball player, but when he goes out it means more touches for LeBron and Wade and that’s not exactly an advantage. They were spectacular this series; they were too much for us,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We had our whole focus on Derrick Rose last year and it’s like having two of them out there. Only bigger. It’s a big challenge. We did the best we could. We put up a good fight. We gave them a little wake-up call. But ever since Game 3 these guys played at such a high level that I don’t know if anybody can beat them.”
From Zak Keefer of Indianapolis Star: “The Indiana Pacers’ lengthiest postseason run in seven seasons came to a cruel completion tonight. The team – the same one that rode a surprising 2-1 advantage in this Eastern Conference semifinal series as recently as five days ago – now begins an abrupt summer vacation, 105-93 losers to the Miami Heat in Game 6 tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse… Certainly, the loss stings. But the season and its successes will provide a building block this franchise had been after for a number of years. The Pacers finished the abridged regular season with the NBA’s fifth-best record, won a playoff series for the first time in seven years and pushed a vaunted and favored Heat group to six games, battling toe-to-toe with an NBA title favorite and providing some terrific theater along the way. Indeed, the future appears bright for the blue and gold. But on this night, the Heat’s surplus of talent trumped a gritty effort from the Pacers.”
Indeed, the team has plenty to look forward to. Roy Hibbert and Paul George are intriguing young talents, while David West – who looked much more like himself in the final months of the season – will be one season removed from microfracture surgery.
Their main issue may lie at the point guard position. With no one that can consistently create for others – not one player had more than six assists in any of the games in the second round – Indiana did not have a go-to player that could disrupt the Heat’s defense. George Hill is a solid scoring option, but he is just that – a scoring guard. Darren Collison was supposed to be the starting point guard for the long haul, but losing his job to Hill is not an encouraging sign.
In any case, they will now have plenty of time to ponder their next move to improve for next season.
James Park is a regular contributor to Sheridanhoops.com. You can find him on twitter @nbatupark.