The Miami Heat have thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at the Indiana Pacers, and the Pacers have stood their ground.
Thanks to a 91-77 win in Game 6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, these two teams are headed to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday night.
The Heat wanted badly to finish things off Saturday night, entering the game with a 3-2 series advantage. They held a slim lead at the half, but a 29-15 third quarter spelled their demise. From there, the Pacers went into survival mode, fighting tooth and nail for a victory and extended playoff life.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra searched for answers throughout the final frame, but found none up and down his roster.
Roy Hibbert was again a monster, knocking Chris Bosh from this game, this series and the public consciousness. Hibbert posted 24 points and 11 rebounds, going 11-of-20 from the field. Bosh was held to 1-of-8 shooting and five points.
Paul George was the high man for the Pacers with 28 points. He hit a few enormous shots down the stretch for Indiana, countering LeBron James nicely. George added eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
George Hill got himself 16 points and six assists, finishing off the Heat with some buckets in crunch time.
Indiana out-rebounded the Heat, 53-33, on the night, with David West and Lance Stephenson combining to grab 26. The Pacers dominated the inside to the tune of 44 points in the paint.
James found himself on an island, scoring 29 points but seeing abysmal performances from Bosh and Dwyane Wade (3-of-11, 10 points).
James picked up where he left off in Game 5, with a 14-point, five-rebound first half. Norris Cole chipped in nine and a little assist at the end, helping the Heat to a 40-39 lead through one half.
Indiana got into an offensive rhythm to start the third. George Hill put in five straight, including his second three. West finally connected on a jumper, after missing seven straight, to put his team ahead, 48-42, with 8:48 left in the quarter.
Bosh, who is having one of the worst stretches of his career, turned the ball over to George and then was whistled for goaltending on George's layup. That bucket, the seventh straight for George, put Indiana up 15 with 4:26 to go in the third.
Indiana dominated the third quarter, with Hibbert pouring in nine points in the frame. Things could have been really bad for Miami entering the fourth, but four straight free throws from James kept the Heat within reach, 68-55, at the end of the third.
Miami started the fourth quarter with Bosh and Wade on the bench, going so far as to play Mike Miller for the first time. This lineup attacked the rim, getting to the line four times in the opening minutes. A Ray Allen freebie made the deficit an even 10 with 10:32 to go.
Suddenly, Miller, who previously played just seven minutes in the series, sank two threes. The Pacers' lead was trimmed to 70-64 with 8:11 left, thanks to the most points Miller has scored since April 17.
George's rapidly improving range showed itself again with 5:20 to go. He nailed a three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer to put Indiana back up, 75-68. It was another in what is becoming a long string of big shots for the young star.
With 4:18 to go, James attacked the rim, where he met the immovable wall of Hibbert. James led with an elbow and was promptly whistled for the charge. James flipped out, sprinting to the other end of the court. Both he and an assistant coach were handed technical fouls.
The free throws and a Hibbert lay-in put Indiana up, 81-68. It wound up being the six-point swing that decided the game.
Playing with a bad illness, West was slow all game. However, he sucked it up in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of his 11 points. His jumper with 2:50 left put Indiana ahead, 83-69.
At that point, the Pacers just piled it on. Another George trey and some typically tight defense slammed the door on Game 6.
The Heat will get another chance to close out the series, facing elimination themselves, on Monday in Game 7.
Spoelstra just has to find some way to get James help, or else it will be the Pacers who take on the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
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