The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 4, 2013

Heat off to Finals, beat Pacers 99-76 in Game 7

(Continued)

James exited with 5:08 left, shaking retired soccer star David Beckham's hand as he made his way to the Heat bench for a relatively subdued celebration. Not long afterward, security personnel started what's become a familiar task in Miami — surrounding the court and stretching out a yellow rope, preparing to hold people at bay for the looming on-court trophy presentation.

More than a few people didn't stick around to see the East title formally presented. After all, it's an all-or-nothing season for the Heat — and this trophy isn't the one that will satisfy them.

Ray Allen added 10 points for Miami, which earned its 78th victory of the season, matching the 11th-best, single-season total in NBA history.

"It's just a privilege to be with this great team, great teammates, and we have another opportunity to go back to where we are," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "You never really want to get it out of the way too much. Game 7's don't happen too often. We enjoyed it and now we have to move on."

Roy Hibbert scored 18 points for the Pacers, who got 14 from David West, 13 from George Hill and 10 from Lance Stephenson. All-Star Paul George was held to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting and fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

George was the last Indiana player on the floor as Miami prepped for its postgame celebration, shaking any hand he could find before being walked toward the visiting locker room by Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who slung an arm over his star's shoulder.

His time will likely come — someday.

Not yet, though. Not with this Miami team built for titles. It's the fourth trip to the finals for the Heat, who won the title in 2006 and have now been there all three years of the "Big Three" era, falling to Dallas in 2011 and then topping Oklahoma City in five games last year.

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