Of all the rivals the HEAT had during the Big 3 era, perhaps none were as pesky as the Pacers.
For three straight years, Miami and Indiana went to battle in some fierce playoff games that featured scuffles, altercations and everything in between. But of course, the HEAT would go on to win all three series.
Among them, the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals was particularly intriguing. After overcoming injuries to defeat the Pacers in six games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the HEAT were in for another arduous task against an Indiana team seeking revenge.
Let’s take a look at how Miami opened and closed the 2013 ECF below.
Game 1 – May 22
What a crazy game this one was.
In what turned out to be a microcosm of the entire back-and-forth series, there were a whopping 18 ties and 17 lead changes. (Some games weren’t that close, but each team alternated wins.)
Game 1 wasn’t always pretty, though, as turnovers plagued both teams from the start. Per usual, LeBron James took advantage in the first quarter, but the frontcourt duo of David West and Roy Hibbert feasted inside and helped the Pacers take a 42-37 lead at the break.
Then James and Bosh went to work in the third to go up a couple times before entering the fourth down a point.
And early in that fourth quarter, Chris Andersen provided a spark with six quick points, including this finish at the rim after swatting Lance Stephenson:
That’s Birdman for ya.
The fan favorite ended up with a playoff career-high 16 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting, five boards, three blocks and a steal.
But again, Indiana stayed neck and neck with Miami, and Paul George eventually hit a deep three with 0.7 seconds left in regulation to force OT.
As you’d expect, that overtime period was an absolute slugfest reserved for competitors only.
Shortly after Bosh converted this important put-back and ensuing free throw to swing momentum…
…James made the last two buckets for the HEAT and finally finished off the Pacers with this blow-by drive and layup to win it 103-102:
Erik Spoelstra deserves some credit for that ATO play, too.
“Coach drew up a good play, and I told myself I was going to attack,” James said after the game. “I had two-plus seconds to get to the rim, and I was able to convert the last one.”
James recorded a triple-double with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting, a team-high 10 rebounds, a game-high 10 assists and three blocks.
Bosh, meanwhile, had 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, two boards, two blocks and an assist, and Wade tallied 19 points (10 in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined) on 9-of-15 shooting, six rebounds, five assists, a team-high three steals and a block.
Game 7 – June 3
Before we get into Game 7, how about we quickly summarize Games 2-6?
Indiana bounced back in Game 2 behind PG and Hibbert, then Miami blew out the Pacers in Game 3 thanks to five double-figure scorers, including Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers. And once Indiana evened up the series in Game 4, Haslem came through again in Game 5 before the Pacers took Game 6.
Told you the series went back and forth until the very end.
Ok, on to Game 7.
Indiana got off to a quick start in the opening period, but they didn’t know what hit ‘em in the second quarter.
The HEAT outscored the Pacers 33-16 in the frame to take a 52-37 advantage at halftime, as James did his usual damage and Ray Allen caught fire from deep.
From there, Miami continued to put the clamps on Indiana (the Pacers shot just 40.6 percent from the field), and Wade and James remained the aggressors on offense.
Naturally, James led all players with 32 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 15-of-16 from the line, eight boards, four assists, two steals and a block, whereas Wade accumulated 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, a game-high nine rebounds, two steals, one assist and a block in the series-clinching 99-76 victory.
Much of the second half was a celebration akin to the waning minutes of the 2012 Finals, as all the Pacers could do was watch the HEAT move on to yet another Finals and eventually their third championship.