"The great thing is we're a young team and we are past the building stage," George said. "This is really our first year tasting success. The rate we are going, we see championships soon."
They're getting closer. A second-round loss to Miami in six games last year was followed by a seven-game, conference-finals exit this time around.
Still, they'll be watching the title round.
"Everybody in this country knows who the Indiana Pacers are now," Vogel said. "And we represent all the right things — class, character, hard work, old-school basketball, playing the game the right way. We represented our franchise, our city and our state extremely, extremely well, and we have a lot to be proud of."
Miami went 2-0 against San Antonio this season, though neither of those games should be considered harbingers of what's ahead. The Spurs rested four regulars in the first meeting, the Heat were without three injured starters in the second matchup.
"It's crazy that it worked out this way," Wade said.
James delivered an inspirational address of sorts to his team Monday morning, publicly revealing no details of what he said afterward other than insisting that the Heat would be ready.
He was right. After 5 minutes, it was 12-6 Indiana. After that, the rest of the half was pretty much all Miami.
Once the Pacers cooled off a bit, the Heat immediately went into pull-away mode. Over the final 19 minutes of the half, Miami's edge was 46-25. Over the final 11 minutes, it was 33-14, as James and Allen outscored the Pacers by themselves.
Allen did less pregame shooting than usual on Monday. He was at the arena several hours before game time — as is his custom — and got in a pregame workout, but once he found a groove, he decided that was enough. And after going 13 for 46 in the first six games of the series, the NBA's career leader in 3-pointers had to believe that he was simply overdue to get going.