Miami eye Finals, thanks to James
LEBRON James scored 32 points as two-time defending champions the Miami Heat ripped the Indiana Pacers 102-90 on Monday, pushing them to the brink of a fourth consecutive trip to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.
Chris Bosh scored 25 points and James added 10 rebounds and five assists as Miami seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami can clinch a berth in the championship series with a victory in Game 5 today at Indianapolis.
"It's going to take a better game than we had tonight (Monday)," James said. "We have to get better with every game."
Miami or Indiana will face either San Antonio or Oklahoma City in next month's NBA Finals.
Miami improved to 8-1 at home against Indiana over the past two seasons and stretched their overall home play-off win streak to 10 games.
Miami led 49-44 at half-time, but they dominated the third quarter, thanks in part to 14 points from James, and stretched the margin to 80-64 entering the fourth.
A 13-1 Indiana run pulled it to 95-84, but Miami, who never trailed, kept the top-seeded Pacers at bay over the final minutes.
Bosh, who had struggled to find his scoring touch against Indiana, scored 17 points in the first 17 minutes.
He said the key to victory was not taking too many shots or pressing too hard. "Sometimes it's all about simplifying everything and getting back to the basics," he said.
Paul George led Indiana with 23 points, while David West had 20 points and 12 rebounds and George Hill contributed 15 points.
Stopping James, the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, is likely Indiana's only hope to win the final three games and advance.
"We've got to do a lot to keep in front of him," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "He's the best player in the world. We've got to make it difficult for him."