They’re getting closer. A second-round loss to Miami in six games last year was followed by a seven-game, conference-finals exit this time around.
Still, they’ll be watching the title round.
Miami went 2-0 against San Antonio this season, though neither of those games should be considered harbingers of what’s ahead. The Spurs rested four regulars in the first meeting, the Heat were without three injured starters in the second matchup.
James delivered an inspirational address of sorts to his team Monday morning, publicly revealing no details of what he said afterward other than insisting that the Heat would be ready.
He was right. After 5 minutes, it was 12-6 Indiana. After that, the rest of the half was pretty much all Miami.
Once the Pacers cooled off a bit, the Heat immediately went into pull-away mode. Over the final 19 minutes of the half, Miami’s edge was 46-25. Over the final 11 minutes, it was 33-14, as James and Allen outscored the Pacers by themselves.
Allen did less pregame shooting than usual on Monday. He was at the arena several hours before game time — as is his custom — and got in a pregame workout, but once he found a groove, he decided that was enough. And after going 13 for 46 in the first six games of the series, the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers had to believe that he was simply overdue to get going.
His first shot on Monday was a 3-pointer that connected, giving the Heat a 26-23 lead.
The Heat never trailed again.
By halftime, it was 52-37, with James scoring 18 points, Chris Bosh and Wade combining for 17 and Allen adding 10 more. And what had to be most troubling to the Pacers at halftime was their 15 turnovers, a number Vogel said earlier Monday would spell trouble if his team committed that many in the entire game.