“Getting to the free-throw line, that’s how you control tempo,” James said.
Said Pacers coach Frank Vogel: “They were just aggressive. They had that killer instinct in their eyes like they weren’t going to be denied.”
James’ head nearly touched the rim on an alley-oop dunk from reserve point guard Norris Cole with 8:25 left in the second quarter. The dramatic field goal put the Heat ahead 33-27. Miami increased its lead to 52-40 at halftime.
From the beginning of the second quarter to the end of the third, the Heat outscored the Pacers 57-34.
It was the first Game 7 scenario for Pacers players Paul George and Roy Hibbert and it showed. George, the budding star, fouled out with 7:43 let in the game. He finished with seven points.
Wade was the Heat’s primary defender for George for most of the series, but James switched off on the Pacers’ best player for Game 7. It was a key tactic, which limited George while allowing Wade to focus on his offense.
“Any little pressure I could take off D-Wade, I wanted to do that,” James said.
Hibbert, the 7-2 center, spent most of the game in foul trouble as well, which limited his effectiveness on the defensive end. Hibbert led the Pacers with 18 points and Indiana shot 40.6 percent from the field. The Heat shot 39.5 percent from the field but outworked the Pacers on defense.
Hibbert picked up his fifth foul of the game when he clumsily crashed into Chris Bosh under the basket with 2:09 to play. But the game was long over by then. Bosh finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
“They’ve been through it before,” Hibbert said. “They were making the right plays and making game-winning plays because they’ve been through it before.”
Ray Allen led the Heat’s bench with 10 points, going 3 of 5 from three-point range. Allen was averaging less than seven points per game in the series before Game 7, but his timely shots demoralized the Pacers in the second quarter. Chris Andersen returned after being suspended for Game 6 and delivered a spark in the second period. He finished with seven points and five rebounds in 16 minutes.