NBA Playoffs: Heat 115, Pacers 83
MIAMI — Miami took a big step forward. Indiana lost two forwards.
Suddenly, the road back to the Eastern Conference finals no longer looks daunting for the Heat.
LeBron James scored 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 28, and the Heat moved a win away from the NBA’s final four with a 115-83 win over the hurting Pacers on Tuesday night.
The Heat lead the best-of-seven 3-2, with Game 6 in Indiana on Thursday night.
“This is our challenge right now, to leave it behind us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “A lot of good things tonight, but we have to focus on the next one.”
James added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Shane Battier scored 13 points, Mario Chalmers had eight points and 11 rebounds, and Udonis Haslem finished with 10 points for Miami, which never trailed, held a 22-2 edge in fast-break points and shot a franchise playoff-record 61 percent — best of any team in the playoffs this season.
Paul George scored 11 points for Indiana, with starting forwards Danny Granger and David West adding 10 points apiece. Granger left with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter, and West left with what the Pacers called a left knee sprain at the end of that period. X-rays on Granger were negative, and he’s listed as day-to-day.
It was an 11-point game when Granger departed early in the third quarter, and the Heat outscored the Pacers by 21 the rest of the way.
A series marked by ugly moments had more, with two flagrant fouls in the second quarter and another with 19.4 seconds remaining when Miami reserve center Dexter Pittman went across the lane to send a forearm into the chin area of Indiana’s Lance Stephenson — who was caught on camera making a choke sign toward James during the Pacers’ Game 3 win, drawing the ire of the Miami locker room.
“Game 6 is going to be physical,” Wade said. “We’ve got to understand that this team has a lot of pride. Their crowd is going to be ready. They’re going to come out with a lot of energy. We’ve got to withstand that first hit and still be standing. We’re ready for it.”