Miami’s LeBron James hailed team mate Dwyane Wade’s “spectacular” 41-point performance after the Heat booked their place in the Eastern Conference finals with a 105-93 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.
The victory wrapped up a 4-2 series win for Miami, who lost Chris Bosh to injury in Game One then lost two in a row to trail the Pacers 2-1 in the series.
Following a 94-75 Game Three road loss, James and Wade took control of the series and lifted the Heat to three wins in a row. James delivered 30 points in an outstanding Game Five performance and Wade took center stage on Thursday.
“He was spectacular from the beginning to the end,” said James, who had 28 points. “He got in the rhythm early and just kept it going throughout the whole game.
“He made jump hooks at the post, he made pull-up jumpers, he made floaters over the top of the bigs and also got to the free throw line eight times, he also rebounded tonight, he was great,” added James.
This season’s Most Valuable Player, James also praised coach Erik Spoelstra for the way he adjusted Miami’s set-up to cope with the loss of Bosh to an abdominal injury.
That setback had threatened to cut short Miami’s postseason but after a shocking performance in Game Three in Indianapolis, Spoelstra found the right formula to let his two top men shine.
“Coach Spo’ from Game Three on made some unbelievable adjustments that allowed us to do the things that we did,” said James.
“He put us in a position offensively and defensively to make the plays, to help us to win. Just as he says that we played spectacularly, he coached spectacularly this series.”
Wade’s performance in Game Three had set the alarm bells ringing, as he finished with five points on 2-13 shooting, but he was back to his very best when it came to crunch time.
“Sometimes you have a bad game, it happens,” said Wade.
“All I did was to continue to play basketball the way I always have, sometimes you struggle, sometimes the ball is not going in.
“I got back to the basics, I felt good, I felt strong, my team mates continued to get me open and to look for me and my confidence stayed at the level that it was in Game Four and just continued”.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged there was little his team could do to contain two of the best players of the last decade.
“They were terrific tonight, they were really terrific the whole series,” Vogel said.
“When Wade and James are going like they were going tonight, they’re going to be tough to beat by anybody.”
The Heat now get a break while they wait for the outcome of Saturday’s Game Seven between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers to determine their opponent for Monday’s opening game in the Conference final.
“I appreciate the extra rest,” said Wade, “I think it’s well deserved.”