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Heat hope to close out Pacers, reach 4th straight Finals

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat can clinch a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance Wednesday night with a victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Heat are a single victory away from becoming the fourth team in NBA history to reach the championship round four consecutive seasons.

The Boston Celtics made a whopping 10 in a row from 1957-66, then the Los Angeles Lakers turned the trick from 1982-85. The C's did it once again, battling those same Lakers a few times, from 1984-87.

It's been almost 30 years, but history is what this incarnation of South Beach's Big Three had in mind when they united in Miami in the summer of 2010.

True to their form, the Heat aren't worrying about legacies. They are worrying about Game 5.

"It's going to take a better game than we had (Monday). It's that simple," said LeBron James. "You have to get better every game. Their back is against the wall, but we have to go in with that mindset that our back is against the wall, too."

Miami inched a win closer to the title round with a 102-90 victory at American Airlines Arena Monday night in Game 4.

James scored 14 of his 32 points in the third quarter, while Chris Bosh added 25. Dwyane Wade had 15 points and James also supplied 10 rebounds and five assists for the Heat, who moved to 7-0 at home during the postseason.

Pacers guard Lance Stephenson stated that James using trash talk against him in Miami's Game 3 victory was a "sign of weakness."

"I'm doing something right to get underneath his skin," Stephenson said after Indiana's practice on Sunday.

His comments might've fueled James, although the four-time MVP shrugged off Stephenson's comments postgame.

"I was motivated enough getting back to the finals," said James, who passed Michael Jordan for the most playoff games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists.

James relentlessly attacked the rim throughout and Bosh helped the Heat finally get off to a fast start in this set. Miami had trailed by double figures in the first quarter in two of the first three games, but it flipped the script on Monday.

Bosh, who had netted just nine points in each of the first three tilts and had been just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc in the series, put in Miami's first eight points. He knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during his personal 8-0 run to begin the game and the Heat never looked back in the wire-to-wire victory.

Paul George supplied 23 points and seven rebounds and David West added 20 points and 12 boards for Indiana. Stephenson finished with nine points and didn't record his first field goal until the 5:31 mark of the fourth.

George was very displeased with the officiating after the game. The Heat attempted 34 free throws compared to 17 for the Pacers.

"I feel like we're just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim," said George. "Maybe this was just home cooking."

That comment, plus many more, earned George a $25,000 fine from the league.

Roy Hibbert was held scoreless in 22 minutes in defeat.

The Pacers are 0-3 all-time in series trailing 3-1. In the Big Three era, the Heat are 7-0 in series when leading by the same margin.

"Listen, 3-1 is a tough challenge. We know that," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "If it's going to happen, it typically happens when the home team is down 3-1. If we win Game 5, the pressure goes back on them. Then they've got to win Game 6. Otherwise, Game 7 is in our building.

"All our focus is on right now is coming back and getting Game 5 and extending the series."

If the Pacers can, Game 6 would be Friday night in Miami.

05/28 09:54:30 ET