After the inconsistencies against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and yet another roller-coaster performance versus the Washington Wizards in the second round, Indiana Pacers will meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The East’s top seed took care of business in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series against the Wizards Thursday night with a convincing 93-80 win led by David West’s 29 points.
As expected the Pacers turned to their defense to notch the clinching victory containing the hapless Wizards to just 39.3 per cent shooting from the floor. On offense, it was all West late in the game with a barrage of mid-range shots that took the air out of the rallying Washington squad, who even got the 74-73 with 8:30 to go in the payoff period.
The Pacers stalled that rally with a 20-6 run to end the game sending a strong warning to rival Miami as they both squads prepare for the next round. West shot 13-of-26 from the field scoring 8 points in the crucial stretch. The veteran power forward added 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Other Pacers were aggressive and more importantly, composed in this game too. All starters finished in double-figure scoring with Lance Stephenson adding 17 points (8/13 FG), Paul George 12 points plus Roy Hibbert and George Hill with 11 markers apiece.
For Washington, Marcin Gortat had another good outing with 19 points and 6 rebounds but only got 12 points from John Wall, who missed 11-of-16 shots with 5 turnovers. Bradley Beal had 16 points on 7-of-19 field goals.
The Wizards did upset the Chicago Bulls in the first round so it was a successful season nonetheless for the young squad. Wall is 23 years old and Beal is 20 years old and both should be the cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.
The Miami-Indiana East Finals begin with Game 1 on Sunday with the Pacers holding the homecourt advantage.