Wade, Heat get inside in win vs Pacers

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Dwyane Wade and the Heat have a lot to celebrate after beating the Pacers in Game 7.

For the second year in a row, the Miami Heat survive a Game 7 to reach the NBA Finals, this time beating the Indiana Pacers 99-76 on Monday night.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Heat are the third team in NBA history to win Game 7 in the Conference Finals in consecutive seasons. The others were the St. Louis Hawks in 1960-61 and the Boston Celtics in 1962-63. The Celtics won the NBA title in all four of those seasons, too.

What the win means for Miami

This is the third straight NBA Finals appearance for the Heat and their fourth in the last eight seasons. Miami is the first Eastern Conference team to make three straight NBA Finals since the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls from 1996-98.

Highest Career PPG in Game 7
NBA History (Min. 2 Games)

The Heat are the 13th team in NBA history to win at least 66 games in the regular season. Of the previous nine teams with that many wins to reach the NBA Finals, all nine went on to win the title.

The Heat have been very resilient in these playoffs. Not only have they avoided back-to-back losses, but their margin of victory following a loss is 22.3 points per game.

How the Heat won

LeBron finally got some help from his sidekick as Dwyane Wade broke out with 21 points, matching his best scoring effort this postseason (Game 2 against the Milwaukee Bucks). He had scored just 20 points on 6-for-19 shooting in Games 5 and 6 combined.

Wade did much of his work around the basket, scoring 12 of his 21 points in the paint. For the series, Wade averaged 11.5 paint points in wins, compared to 3.3 in losses.

Big 3 Offense in Game 7

LeBron scored 32 points to lead all scorers, but on just 56 touches, his fewest in a game in the Conference Finals. Wade and Bosh were much more involved in Game 7, combining for 79 touches in this game, after totaling just 44 in the Game 6 loss.

Another key for Miami was its work down low. The Heat had a 15-8 advantage on the offensive boards and outscored the Pacers 22-12 in second-chance points.

It was the first time this series Miami had more offensive rebounds than Indiana.

Looking ahead to the NBA Finals

The NBA Finals begin June 6, giving the Heat just two days rest to prepare for the San Antonio Spurs.

Under the current playoff system (since 1984), 15 teams have entered the NBA Finals with two or fewer off days. Those teams are 6-9 in the Finals, but one of those wins was by the Heat last season.

The Spurs will have nine days rest before the Finals. Teams are just 2-2 with at least nine days off between the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals. However, the Spurs won their first NBA title in 1999 after having nine days off.