One more victory.
That’s all that separates the Miami Heat from becoming just the third franchise in history to make it to four straight NBA Finals. A Game 6 victory over the Indiana Pacers would send Miami back to the Finals looking for a third-straight NBA Championship, the ever elusive three-peat.
If Miami can knock off Indiana, it will join the Boston Celtics (1957-1966; 1984-1987) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1985) as the only franchises to get to four straight Finals.
The Pacers held on to a 93-90 victory Wednesday night aided in large part by Heat superstar LeBron James being in foul trouble throughout the game. Even with James scoring just seven points, Indiana won when Chris Bosh missed a last-second three-pointer to seal the Pacers victory.
Coming back to Miami for Game 6, the Heat are angry, focused, and don’t want to let the series return to Indiana for Game 7. For Miami to get back to the Finals, they will need a big return from LeBron James and to keep Indiana’s Paul George contained.
James is averaging 22.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game, but is actually averaging fewer minutes than Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference Finals (37.4 Wade to 36.6 James). Wade has been giving the Heat a boost with 21.2 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game in the ECF.
James and Wade have also been shooting the proverbial lights out for the Heat in the conference finals. LeBron has put up a true shooting percentage of 61.2 percent while Wade’s TSP is hovering around 62.5 percent in the conference finals.
One big question the Heat has not answered yet is the availability of center Chris Andersen. The Birdman has been battling a thigh bruise since Game 3 and has missed the last two games.
However, the Heat has managed to overcome the loss of Birdman without paying much of a price in the paint. Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert’s usage hasn’t increased to the level it was in Game 1, though it did increase from 11.7 percent in Game 4 to 19.7 percent in Game 5.
Additionally, the Heat was outrebounded by just 3 (37-34) in Game 4 and by just 7 (45-38) in Game 5 without the Birdman on the floor.
Still, his length, athleticism, and energy would be a big boost to the Heat Friday night as the team looks to close out the Pacers. A win will guarantee the Heat a place in NBA history. A loss will send the series back to Indiana for a decisive Game 7 when anything can happen.
Game 6 will tip-off Friday night at 8:30 p.m. at the AmericanAirlines Arena.