The Indiana Pacers have an opportunity rewrite history on Tuesday (Manila time) when they play the defending champion Miami Heat for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers rode on the broad shoulders of rising star center Roy Hibbert who had 21 points and 14 rebounds while another upcoming superstar, Paul George fired 28 and eight boards to power Indiana to a 91-77 Game 6 victory. The victory forged the winner-take-all Game 7.
The last time the Pacers played in a Game 7, they lost that one, back when Reggie Miller was still the team’s top dog after Indiana bowed to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 NBA East Finals.
Now, Hibbert, George and the rest of the Pacers have a golden opportunity to erase that bitter memory 15 years ago and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since the 2000 season. They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers though, 4-2 in the Finals.
I’m just amazed at how the Pacers have shown their grit and determination against the Heat, who appeared unbeatable during the regular season after ratting 27 straight victories at one point.
The Heat went on to finish with a franchise-setting record 66 victories, winning 23 of their last 24 road games. But Miami appeared vulnerable deep in the Playoffs, losing Games 4 and 6 in the conference Finals against the Pacers.
For Miami, advancing to the NBA Finals for the third straight year requires more than just another big game from Lebron James.
The Heat need Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier and the rest to chip in on offense and defense.
I’m sure the Pacers will continue to capitalize on their height advantage with Hibbert, David West and even George, Lance Stephenson, among others expected to dominate the boards.
So, as Game 7 kicks off hours from now, will the Pacers keep making history or will the Heat keep their back-to-back NBA title hopes alive?
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