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Heat Thrash Pacers, Move on to NBA Finals

The Heat demolished the Pacers in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals to move on to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year. The Spurs will look to do the same tonight in Oklahoma City.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

9-2.  The Pacers started game six in Miami with a 9-2 run.  It was the last competitive moment of the game, as Miami took complete control from there and outscored the Pacers 58-25 the rest of the half.

It was never a game after the first quarter, as the Heat just piled it on. Their defense forced a stagnant Pacers offense into off-balance shots, long jumpers, and identifiable plays, almost none of which resulted in baskets.  At the other end, the Heat were sharp behind LeBron James' scoring and play making, as they shot over 50% from the field yet again in this series.

This game was an embarrassing effort from a conference finalist, but it has been clear that the Pacers are capable of playing some terrible basketball, particularly at the offensive end. After a monster game five, Paul George was virtually invisible in the first half of this one, and he was not alone. Other than an effective David West, the Pacers had nothing going for them at all. Their bench was non-existent, and Roy Hibbert and George Hill brought nothing to the table either. It was a group effort of calamity. George piled up some points in the 2nd half, but by then the result was no longer in doubt.

Perhaps the most exciting moment of the game was when Udonis Haslem threatened Lance Stephenson after a flagrant foul and more Stephenson antics.  That's about it.

Where the Pacers go from here is unclear. They are a two time conference finalist, and they had the best record in the conference this season, so it seems unwise to overreact to this. But they looked incredibly pedestrian at several points in the post-season, not just against Miami.  Does Frank Vogel survive?  How hard to they try to retain Lance Stephenson? It seems like some changes are necessary.

Miami meanwhile is off to their fourth straight NBA Finals, where they will meet either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tonight's game

Spurs at Thunder
7:30 pm Central

The home team has won all five games in this series so far, and the Thunder will need that to continue in order to force a game seven in the Western Conference Finals.

After getting overwhelmed by the athleticism of the Thunder, particularly on defense after the return of Serge Ibaka, Gregg Popovich made a change to ensure that at least one of his bigs on the floor at all times was capable of stretching the defense out to the three point line, in order to open things up in the middle and stop Ibaka from dominating the paint. It worked, as the Spurs found their ball movement and shooting touch in game five and cruised to a blow out win after it looked like they were on the ropes.

The Thunder need to respond tonight, and it will be a charged atmosphere in Loud City.  Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal at times this post-season, and is really doing a job clamping down on Tony Parker.  He exploded for 40 points in game four, and the Thunder will need big nights from both him and Kevin Durant tonight. They also need to find something off the bench, as that has been a problem most of the series. With Reggie Jackson now in the starting lineup, the Thunder have no bench scoring. Steven Adams is a nice backup center, but isn't getting points on his own. They need someone like Jeremy Lamb to make some shots off the bench.

As Tim wrote about, the Lynx won for the 6rh straight time to open the season last night with a victory at home over Sam Antonio.  Dev Peters saw her first action of the season coming off injury, while Maya Moore scored a team high 25.

It looks like the Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer is all but done, as the Sterling Trust has reached an agreement on a $2B price tag, while also indemnifying the league against any lawsuit brought by Donald Sterling. Sterling has indeed filed an anti-trust suit against the NBA asking for money damages, so this situation continues to be weird.

The Wovles will be bringing in six draft hopefuls on Sunday, none of whom are in play for the 13 pick. The biggest names are Jerami Grant from Syracuse and Keith Appling from Michigan State.

Today in History

1279 BC Rameses II becomes Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. 
70: Rome captures first wall of Jerusalem

1659: France, Holland and England sign the Treaty of Hague

1669: Samuel Pepys records last entry in diary
1790: U.S. copyright law enacted
1884: John Harvey Kellogg patents "flaked cereal"
1902: Boer War ends, Britain annexes the Transvaal
1913: 17th amendment (direct election of senators) declared ratified

Today's musical birthday is Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC, born in 1964

Have a great Saturday everyone.