MIAMI: LeBron James and Chris Bosh scored 25 points each as the two-time defending champion Miami Heat clobbered the Indiana Pacers 117-92 Friday to reach their fourth consecutive NBA finals.
Miami used a game six blowout Friday (Saturday in Manila) to join an elite NBA group by becoming the first team to reach the championship four straight times since the Boston Celtics did it from 1984-87.
James also had six assists and shot eight-of-12 from the field in 32 minutes of playing time for Miami who used an emphatic victory to claim the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series 4-2.
“We are going to four straight finals and we will never take this for granted,” James said. “We will celebrate this for sure and when we start getting ready for the finals we will lock in.”
James regrouped in a huge way on Friday after coming off one of the worst offensive performances of his brilliant career in game five, where he battled foul trouble and finished with a career playoff low seven points on just two-of-10 shooting.
“We are competing against the [Michael] Jordan of our era, the [Chicago] Bulls of our era and you have to tip your hats to them,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel.
Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each tallied 13 points while Chris Andersen grabbed 10 rebounds for the Heat, who lost the finals in 2011 then won back-to-back titles in 2012 and last season.
Miami will start the NBA finals on the road against the winner of the other NBA semi-final playoff series between San Antonio and Oklahoma City. The Spurs, who lost to the Heat in seven games in last year’s finals, can close out that series with a win Saturday in game six.
The Heat are the third team in NBA history to make the finals four straight years. The Celtics made a staggering 10 in a row from 1957-66, then the Los Angeles Lakers did it from 1982-85.
Boston was also the last team to do it, beginning in 1984.
Making history is what Wade, James and Bosh had in mind when they joined forces in southern Florida at the start of the 2010-11 season.
“Our promise to each other was we wanted to come together to compete for championships,” Wade said. “The individual things was out the window. We made that promise to each other on day one and we continue to live it out.”
Bosh said this was as good a game as they have played in a long time.
“We are almost there. This was one of those games we have always wanted to play from beginning to end,” Bosh said. “We wanted to make a statement on our home court.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was please with his team’s focus ahead of game six.
“We had a very angry group yesterday when we met for practice. They were a focused group today at shoot around. I knew our guys would bring a very competitive spirit to the game,” Spoelstra said.
Paul George led the way for Indiana with 29 points, but 28 of those came in the second half with Miami in firm control. It was a far cry from Wednesday’s game five 93-90 Indiana win when George scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter.
The Miami defense smothered George on this night as the Heat led 60-34 at halftime in front of a crowd of 20,021 at the American Airlines Arena.
“It’s disappointing to fall short of our goals,” said Vogel. “It’s bitterly disappointing to lose to this team three years in a row.”