The Miami Heat took the Eastern Conference crown for the third year in a row, this time in a 99-76 win over the Indiana Pacers thanks to a solid game from Dwyane Wade, and apparently some prodding from LeBron James.
Wade scored 21 points in Game 7, second only to James, while pulling down nine rebounds (six offensive) in the process.
It was by far his best game of the series, and the first time he scored at least 20 points in the playoffs since Game 2 of the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks.
In fact, Wade's Game 7 marked just the second time in the Eastern Conference Finals that any non-LeBron member of the Heat scored at least 20 points; Mario Chalmers scored 20 in a Game 4 win.
As far as the "Big Three" is concerned, Wade and Bosh combined to average just 26.4 points per game in the playoffs, and that's while LeBron was busy averaging 29 per game by himself.
All the while, however, LeBron supported his teammates through their respective rough patches.
LeBron James said that he stayed on Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, telling them that they had to step up and help Miami find a way to advance.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 4, 2013
LeBron said he called the first play of the Wade to get him in rhythm.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 4, 2013
Well, the play call definitely worked. Wade scored six points in that first quarter, his most of any first quarter in the series, and went on to have an enormous impact in the game.
Not only was he a huge factor to the team's start, but he was one of the biggest reasons why they won the rebounding battle.
Now the team just needs Bosh to find a way to break out of his funk, which has held him in single-digit scoring for four consecutive games.
While the San Antonio Spurs aren't the same defensive monster that the Pacers were, they still rely on the basic fundamentals of an inside-out approach—with a big, old man who grabbed a handful of Defensive Player of the Year Award votes sitting in the post.
Plus, Gregg Popovich was just given a week to sit and watch film of what was and wasn't successful from the Pacers against the Heat. That should be horrifying enough on its own.
LeBron's going to have to stay on Wade and Bosh; one good game does not mean they're back to their normal selves.
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