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Monday, June 3rd (All times Eastern)
(3) Indiana Pacers (3-3) at (1) Miami Heat (3-3), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Monday night is Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers from South Beach.
The winner meets the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA title. The loser has months to lament over what went wrong.
"Our approach right now is not if we lose we're out. Our approach is if we win, we get to the finals," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "And that's what we're going for. We're going to give our best shot and try to win the Eastern Conference championship."
"It's never easy competing for an NBA title," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "And it's a treasure to be part of a Game 7 against a worthy opponent."
Game 7 became necessary thanks to a 91-77 Indiana victory at home Saturday night. The Pacers blew the game open with a 29-15 advantage in the third quarter.
Paul George led the way with 28 points, followed by 24 from Roy Hibbert, who also had 11 rebounds. George Hill chipped in 16 points and the Pacers got a double-double from David West, who battled a 103-degree fever.
LeBron James was the leading scorer with 29 points. He added seven rebounds and six assists, but only two other Heat players -- Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers -- scored in double figures and the Miami backcourt managed only 10 points apiece.
That has become the dominant storyline for the Heat. Wade and Chris Bosh have been awful this series and James has had to revert to his "Cleveland" ways.
"I mean, we can state the obvious; they're both struggling," James said after Saturday's loss. "This is the position we're in and those guys as professionals, as champions, we'll figure it out. And me as the leader, I'll have to help them figure it out."
Wade has averaged 14.5 ppg during this series and Bosh hasn't scored in double figures since Game 3.
"One of the greater strengths about all of us is we own it. And the players and staff alike, we've been through situations where we have failed," said Spoelstra. "And instead of blaming and making it about anything else, let's just come to a solution and fix it."
Another problem that's plagued the Heat in this series is rebounding and that was magnified on Saturday. The Pacers hammered Miami on the boards to the tune of 53-33.
The Pacers had three players with double-digit rebounds Saturday -- Hibbert, West and Lance Stephenson.
Hibbert was sensational, yet again, in Game 6. The Heat have no way of stopping him, but Hibbert got the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons following Saturday's win.
Hibbert used profanity and a gay slur in his postgame press conference and was fined $75,000 by the league.
The Pacers big man issued an apology.
As ugly as Hibbert's comments were, everything gets thrown out the window for a Game 7.
"When you face somebody that's a worthy opponent, you've got to earn it. They're not going to give it to us," said Spoelstra. "We're not going to give it to them. You have to take it. You have to take it and earn it against a team that's not backing up. And that's what competition is all about."
"We have to talk about the poise and the understanding of what the adrenaline is going to do to your body, and that the mental approach and the mental aspect is every bit as important as anything you do physically," said Vogel. "We haven't been perfect this series, but we're going to need to be near perfect to win a Game 7 there."
The NBA Finals start Thursday.
06/03 10:34:41 ET